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Title: The language of hysteria : pathos, claustrophobia and mass memory in the writing of Dorota Masłowska
Author: Rychlicka, Aleksandra Marta
ISNI:       0000 0004 5567 0466
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines the literary constructions of memory, history and suffering in the writing of an iconic Polish author of the new generation, Dorota Masłowska (b. 1983). I read Masłowska's work as an intervention to the way that Polish writers have been negotiating the past. No longer obliged to archive the collective memory, Masłowska's writing creates a literary language that most poignantly reflects the evolution of Polish collective remembrance. Marked by the 'suffering of surviving,' this experience has led to a memory model corresponding to hysteria: a distinct form of suffering which I conceptualise in opposition to the dominant model of trauma theory. Drawing on the work of Polish psychiatrist Antoni Kępiński, I claim that it is neither any single traumatic event nor an accumulation of identifiable historical tragedies that torments the Polish nation, but rather the intangible mental suffering which results from being unable to specify the cause of pain. This thesis moves away from the symbolism of 'bloodlands', (Timothy Snyder's influential term for the region) to the symbolism of cultural 'graves', articulated in the writing of Masłowska. The thesis then investigates the most vulnerable and revealing element of culture: its language. Masłowska's signature blend of official jargons, media noise, slang and slogans explodes with emotions but conveys no meaning. Her writing captures the sound of cultural hysteria, which I read in terms of aggression but also suffering, failed pathos and isolation. Masłowska's language of hysteria becomes an incubator for 'mass memory', my concept to describe collective memory in post-1989 Poland. Drawing on Kępiński's theory of information metabolism, the thesis explores how earlier symbols have lost their connection with the present and became 'empty signs,' unable either to inform or unite people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available