As the author of The Captive Mind, a book of essays on politics and postwar Polish intellectuals who embraced communism, Czesław Miłosz was labeled "a political writer." While acknowledging that some of his writings were political indeed, he distanced himself from them and defied this arbitrary classification. After all, he considered himself – and he truly was – a lyrical poet. What is the place of The Captive Mind in Miłosz's literary output, then? To answer this question, the lecture will explore the work's main features and discuss some events of the poet's biography and postwar European history.
A Lyrical Poet as a Political Writer. The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz - A talk by Prof. Bożena Shallcross and Prof. Andrzej Karcz
Friday, June 25, 2021, 2:00 PM
Bożena Shallcross is a professor of Polish literature and Polish-Jewish cultural studies in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago, as well as an essayist, translator, and art critic. She published several monographs, edited and translated volumes of texts by various authors, as well as numerous articles, in which she has explored an intersection of the once fundamental division between the seeing subject and the objectual sphere in literature, the visual arts, and the phenomenal world. Her research has taken her from the late stage of Polish symbolist poetry and its ekphrastic reassessments of Western European visual arts to the late modernist destabilization of the poetic subject and art-object divide, which she explored from the perspective of (post)sublime encounters, the scene of writing, and spatial modes of habitation. Currently, she is working on two book-length projects: a study on the Kulmhof-am-Ner survivors and a volume on inscriptions. Among her grants, fellowships, and awards, she appreciates most The Polish Government's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Polish Culture in the World awarded in 2002.
Andrzej Karcz is an associate professor in the Institute of Literary Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. His books include The Polish Formalist School and Russian Formalism (2002), Teksty z daleka i bliska: Szkice nie tylko o literaturze (2003), and Refleksja nad literaturą w polskim piśmiennictwie emigracyjnym (2017). He co-edited, with Halina Filipowicz and Tamara Trojanowska, a volume entitled Polonistyka po amerykańsku: Badania nad literaturą polską w Ameryce Północnej, 1990-2005 (2005). He is also the editor of Czesław Miłosz, "Mój wileński opiekun": Listy do Manfreda Kridla (2005). His articles have appeared in Polish and American journals and edited volumes. His main research interests focus on literary theory, history of literary criticism, Polish prose of the 20th and 21st centuries, Polish émigré literature, and Polish studies abroad. Professor Karcz holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Chicago.
The lecture is presented in cooperation with the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences and is part of the Tadeusz Solowij Lectures of the Kosciuszko Foundation.