Mindaugas Kvietkauskas (Vilnius University)


Prof. Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas is a literary scholar and translator, Dean of the Faculty of Philology at Vilnius University. In 2019–2020, Kvietkauskas served as Lithuania’s Minister of Culture. Before becoming a minister, Kvietkauskas worked at the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore in Vilnius and managed this institution in 2008-2018. Kvietkauskas acquired his Ph.D. at the Department of Lithuanian Literature, Vilnius University, and studied Yiddish Language and Literature at the Oxford University‘s Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. His main areas of research are multinational literary modernism and urban culture in Lithuania and East-Central Europe. He is the author of a monograph on multilingual literary modernism in Vilnius (2007, Polish translation 2013); co-author of a study on the Lithuanian contexts of Czeslaw Milosz (2011, Polish translation 2014), and the editor of a collection of research articles Transitions of Lithuanian Postmodernism. Lithuanian Literature in the Post-Soviet Period (Amsterdam, New York, 2011). Kvietkauskas has published a collection of literary essays The Port Fugue (2017) and translated several books from the Yiddish and Polish languages, including works by famous poets Czeslaw Milosz, Abraham Sutzkever, and Moyshe Kulbak. He has researched and translated Holocaust diaries written by Lithuanian Jewish children – „Vilnius Ghetto Diary“ by Yitskhok Rudashevski and „Unlocked Diary“ by Matilda Olkin. He has also researched the work of the Jewish avant-garde photographer Moyshe Vorobeichic-Moï Ver and collaborated on the preparation of his retrospective exhibition and  catalogue at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2023).


Hybrid Diaspora: Lithuanian, Polish and Eastern European Jewish Modernist and Avant-Garde Milieu in Paris in the Late 1920s

The last three decades of research on East Central European Modernism and the Avant-garde have led to the reconstruction of their regional networks, as well as their links to Western metropolises. The relationship between the Western “centres” and the Eastern “peripheries” is perceived as polymorphous, including adaptation, transformation, competition; domination, resistance, dialogue; negotiation and mobility between the local and the cosmopolitan spheres (Benson, Forgács, eds., 2002; Kornhauser, 2014; Bru, 2018). My presentation focuses on the question of how the network of artistic and literary diasporas of East Central Europe functioned in the Western metropolises of the 1920s and 1930s – in particular, Paris. Traditional literary histories tend to emphasise the two-way relationship between the ‘centres of Western modernism’ and ‘national modernisms’. From this perspective, it is not possible to identify the specificity of transnational artistic milieus in the Western metropolises and their significance for the cultural circulation. The phenomena of intercultural collaboration or competition, negotiation of identities and stylistic hybridity that emerged in these milieus can upset the conventional narrative schemes of literary history. My presentation will focus on the forms of collaboration in the milieu of Lithuanian, Polish, Jewish and other diaspora writers, artists and publishers in Paris of the late 1920s. This network formed the basis for the publication of the international Constructivist magazine MUBA, edited by the Lithuanian poet Juozas Tysliava and the Belgian poet Paul Dermée, published in Paris in 1928; it was followed by the magazine L’Art Contemporain, edited by the Polish poet Jan Brzękowski and the Polish-Belarusian artist Wanda Chodasiewicz-Grabowska (Nadia Léger). Both publications testify to the crisis of previous Avant-garde strategies and the turn towards a more synthetic Modernist expression. The personal connections, publishing activities, mutual translations, exchange of ideas, and artistic communication in this milieu reveal an example of an atypical network that transcends the conventional boundaries of centre and periphery, national and cosmopolitan, canonical and non-canonical.