Izabela Sobczak (Adam Mickiewicz’s University)


Izabela Sobczak – a doctoral student in literary studies at Faculty of Polish and Classical Philologies at Adam Mickiewicz’s University in Poznań (Poland). Laureate of the “Translatorium” mentoring program; beneficiary of stipends from NAWA PROM and NAWA STER “AMU International Compass” (2022), as part of which she completed a two-week search in New York and a three-month research internship on the works of Djuna Barnes at the Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland (Maryland, USA). Academically interested in modernist literature, feminism, contemporary women’s writing and translation studies. She has published in, among others, “Forum Poetyki/Forum of Poetics”, “Przekładaniec. A Journal of Translation Studies”, “Porównania (Comparisons)”, “Studia Poetica”, “International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics”.


Intertexts of the ‘New’ Modernism. Intimate Paths of Women Writers’ Response to Literature of the Last Century

Within the debate regarding the great comeback of modernism which was once “deferred” (M. Perloff 2002) and is now being “adopted” (J. M. Baskin 2019) in literature and the arts, there is still a lack of discussion regarding the specific theoretical tools through which the dialogue with modernism is being revived. It seems that intertextuality, which has once become a “trademark” of postmodernism (M. Pfister 1991) but now “is one of the most commonly used and misused terms in contemporary critical vocabulary” (G. Allen 2022), gains new functionality in women’s prose of today and with the special relation to modernism of the first decades of the 20th century. The purpose of the article is to determine how contemporary women writers read and use modernist literature, how they relate to tradition through intertextual connections and transpose its literary patterns into their own type of prose, which is situated in the tensions between fiction and non-fiction, biography and autobiography. Alongside with the well-known to Western criticism women authors such as Dorris Lessing, Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, Kate Zambrano, interesting examples of actualizing the legacies of modernism can be found in Polish contemporary prose, including works by Izabela Filipiak, Ewa Kuryluk, Agata Tuszyńska. The connections of their literature with writers of European and American modernism such as Djuna Barnes, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Isaac Bashevis Singer point to a transnational way of engaging in dialogue with the past, a way that does not refer only to nostalgia (as suggested in Polish criticism – P. Czaplinski 2001), but to seeking one’s own authorial, gender and sexual subjectivity. Intertextuality thus, by mediating private experience, takes on an intimate angle, highlights the interpersonal relationships between women writers of the past and present, and also servs as a medium for (neo)modernist forms of experiencing literature.