Deficit in Polish Literature and Literary Studies – Analyses and (Re)Visions

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Lodz

The editors of “Studies in Polish Literature” (, which has been published annually since 1937 by the Lodz Learned Society and the University of Lodz, invite contributions to the 2020 issue of the journal, entitled
Deficit in Polish Literature and Literary Studies – Analyses and (Re)Visions
We welcome original and innovative approaches to a number of problems related to different understandings of the term “deficit.”
First of all, the issue aims to identify and explore various shortages, white spots, and forms of silence that are conspicuous in Polish literature and literary studies, using different confrontational, comparative, or interdisciplinary perspectives. It seeks to investigate the reasons why specific themes, formal devices, or artistic programmes and statements were not (or are not) well received in Poland and thus remain conspicuous by their absence. We welcome articles that address the problems, questions, conventions, methodologies, trends in reception of literature, and other ideas that seem to be missing from Polish literature and literary studies. In this context, it is also crucial to investigate whether a given “deficit” is actually indicative of an objective and indisputable absence or rather results from perceptual failure, neglect, marginalization, distortion, obfuscation, one’s cognitive stereotypes or inability to decode the hidden meanings, or/and the impact of the authoritarian statements made by writers or of the canonical interpretations of their works.
Yet, the questions we seek to answer are not limited to the deficits troubling Polish literature and/or literary studies. We would also like to ask to what extent a given deficit results from adopting a specific, hierarchical perspective, to what extent it is painful and problematic, and to what extent it is specific to the Polish context. Such an approach may also help determine whether Polish literary studies have made (or are making) any important, original contribution to the humanities, in general. In other words, the thematic scope of the issue offers a space for examining the innovativeness of Polish literary studies as well as its strategies of analyzing problems that are either context-specific or more universal.
Secondly, deficit can be understood in terms of the limited productivity of a given approach. This particularly rings true in the times when the rapid increase in the number of analytical works does not automatically improve the quality of research or facilitate progress. Thus, another question we would like to ask concerns the reasons why given methodologies, even if effective in other temporal and cultural contexts, do not bring the expected results in different configurations. This brings us to the question whether theories and methodologies that have been developed elsewhere can easily be translated into the Polish context. Do they need any modifications? Or, perhaps, do they turn out to be partly or totally incompatible with Polish literature and the specificity of Polish literary studies?
We are not interested exclusively in the analysis of failures in introducing new theories and methodologies in Polish literary studies, but also in an insider’s critical reflections on this field of research. In this context, deficit may be related to the impasse in the systemic analysis of a given literary phenomenon or oeuvre. This prompts us, for instance, to reflect on the future of versification studies, on how Leśmian studies has been saved from falling into oblivion, and on whether such an impasse is more of a threat to a scholar researching Mickiewicz’s oeuvre or the works by Masłowska, Reymont’s novels or Gombrowicz’s works, a scholar of prosody or one that specializes in visual poetry, an aficionado of deconstruction or an editor and genologist, etc.
Thirdly, we hope that the issue will explore the history of deficit and scantiness seen as a marker of artistic transformations or changes in the trends in reception of literature. This area of interest may, for instance, cover the shortage of rhymes in poetry, the deficit of epic poetry, the deficit of fiction that offers a panoramic view of society, the deficit of beauty, the deficit of ornamentation, the deficit of pathos, the deficit of seriousness, and the deficit of intellectually stimulating content. It also embraces the diminishing or disappearing scholarly interest in works of writers who once enjoyed high popularity and attracted considerable critical attention (such as Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński or Edward Stachura). The key question here concerns the possible reasons for these “deficits” (e.g. the role of fashion in shaping popular interest in various literary phenomena, the influence of different cultural restrictions and changes, artistic transformations, or/and other factors that determine scholarly and popular interest).
Last but not least, we invite articles that reflect upon deficit understood as an analytical category that is closely related to the concept and the criticism of “the norm” (which can, for instance, be found in the theories put forward by Judith Butler, Frantz Fanon, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Lennard Davis, or Robert McRuer). Defined as a social and cultural construct, deficit is a crucial category in critical minority studies. It plays an important role in ethnic and race studies, gender and queer studies, cultural disability studies and analyses of the intersectionality of various forms of discrimination. In these contexts, the characteristic features of the Other (defined through the prism of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, wealth, class affiliation, religion, or/and disability) are often perceived in terms of lack and/or deviation. Thus, we welcome articles that investigate how Polish literature has addressed the problem of the so-defined deficit across centuries. We are particularly interested in analyses of literary works that either reinforce the above-mentioned biased approaches or question and verify them, in a subversive fashion challenging the existing hierarchies and depicting the alleged “deficit” as a feature that is valued and desired.
We hope that such a broad topic of the 2020 issue of “Studies in Polish Literature” will offer a space for the analysis of various problems and shortages with which contemporary Polish literary studies have been struggling. We invite articles that address the following questions: when does a deficit pose a threat? When should it be viewed as a problem that needs to be identified, described, and diagnosed? When does it serve as a valuable and productive factor that facilitates the development of literary forms, genres, and concepts, as well as artistic philosophies and ideologies? The blurred boundaries of the term, which embraces various nuanced meanings and problems, suggest that “deficit” should not be treated as an axiological, but a descriptive category that may be useful in analyzing certain general trends as well as specific literary texts.
Short abstracts (150-400 words) should be sent to the issue editors by 30 June 2019. Notification of acceptance will be sent back by 10 July 2019. The deadline for full articles (between 20,000 and 40,000 characters in English or Polish) is 31 December 2019. Abstracts and full articles should be sent to: Katarzyna Ojrzyńska ( and Magdalena Lachman (