Literary Canon Formation as Nation-Building in Central Europe and the Baltics

19th to Early 20th Century


In this volume, seventeen scholars from Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia present their research on the formation and transformation of national literary canons as a practice of nation-building in Central Europe and the Baltics.The articles focus on the shaping of national identities through literature and analyze the establishment of literary canons by means of language, the role of national poets, and similar topics. Case studies of so-called minor literatures reveal common tendencies in the structure of many national canons, as well as specific responses and creative decisions in nation-building processes. This volume rethinks the relations between literature and nationalism (from the 19th century to present times) and contributes to the field of studies of historical development of nationalism.

Contributors are: Olga Bartosiewicz-Nikolaev, Renata Beličová, Ramunė Bleizgienė, Paweł Bukowiec, Anna R. Burzyńska, Judit Dobry, Gergely Fórizs, Katre Kikas, Aistė Kučinskienė, Helena Markowska-Fulara, Radosław Okulicz-Kozaryn, Jurga Sadauskienė, Vaidas Šeferis, Viktorija Šeina, Brigita Speičytė, Jagoda Wierzejska, and Krystyna Zabawa.

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Aistė Kučinskienė, Ph.D. (2016), is research fellow at the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore (Vilnius, Lithuania) and teacher at Vilnius University. She has published the monograph Kultūrišku keliu: Juozo Tumo-Vaižganto laiškai [In a Cultural Way: Letters of Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas].

Viktorija Šeina, Ph.D. (2016), is Head of the Department of Modern Literature at the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore (Vilnius, Lithuania). She has published the monograph Laikinoji sostinė lietuvių literatūroje [Temporary Capital in Lithuanian Literature] (2014).

Brigita Speičytė, Ph.D. (2003), is Professor and Head of the Department of Lithuanian Literature at Vilnius University and author of two monographs: Poetinės kultūros formos: LDK palikimas XIX amžiaus Lietuvos literatūroje [The Poetics of Culture: The Heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the Literature of the 19th Century] (2004) and Anapus ribos: Maironis ir istorinė Lietuva [Beyond the Limit: Maironis and the Old Lithuania] (2012).
Editor’s Preface
Notes on Contributors
Nation-Building Canons: Historical and Methodological Considerations Viktorija Šeina

Part 1. The Shaping of National, Cultural and Literary Identities

Classicists and the Classics. The Polish Literary Canon in Academia (1800–1830) Helena Markowska-Fulara
The Concept of Lithuanian Literature in the 19th Century Brigita Speičytė
Towards an Unofficial Canon. Striving to Strengthen the Lithuanian Cultural Community under Russian Domination in the Mid-19th Century Radosław Okulicz-Kozaryn
The Concept of Lithuanian Folk Song in Lithuanian Folklore 1800–1940 Jurga Sadauskienė
“Who Are You?” “A Little Pole.” The Vision of the Nation and Nationality in the Polish Literary Canon for Children on the Threshold of Independence (around 1918) Krystyna Zabawa
State-Building and Nation-Building: Dimensions of the Myth of the Defense of Lviv in the Polish Literary Canon, 1918–1939 Jagoda Wierzejska
Counter-narratives in Greater Romania: Polemical Social, Political and Cultural Engagement in the Avant-garde Literary Magazine Contimporanul (January–July 1923) Olga Bartosiewicz-Nikolaev
“The Experience of Change”: Hungarian Literature in the First Czechoslovak Republic Judit Dobry

Part 2. Literary Canonization: Case Studies

Nation-Building or Nation-Bricolage? The Making of a National Poet in 19th-Century Hungary Gergely Fórizs
A National Epic from Below: Kalevipoeg in the Writings of Grassroots Literati Katre Kikas
The Polish Theater Canon and Comedy – A Complicated Relation Anna R. Burzyńska
Constraints of Canon Constructing. Research into the Paradoxes of Reception of Józef Baka’s Poetry in Polish Literature and Literary Studies Paweł Bukowiec
The Borderland between Conflicting Canons: Kristijonas Donelaitis Vaidas Šeferis
The Making of the Lithuanian National Poet: Maironis Aistė Kučinskienė
Cultivation of New Readers in the Early Criticism of Žemaitė’s Works (1895–1915) Ramunė Bleizgienė
Postmodernist Representation of the Central European Multiethnic Milieu. Marek Piaček: Apolloopera – A Melodrama about Bombing for the Choir, Actor and Trombone Renata Beličová
Index of Names
This book is for all interested in the historical development of nationalism and literary canon formation as a practice of nation-building in European literatures, as well as anyone concerned with minor literatures in general.
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