Silvia Dapia Receives Inaugural Polish Studies Award for Book on Witold Gombrowicz

April 6, 2022

Her book examines the work and life of the Polish-born writer through a transnational lens.

Silvia Dapia (right) and her award-winning book Gombrowicz in Transnational Context
Silvia Dapia (right) and her award-winning book "Gombrowicz in Transnational Context"

Silvia Dapía, professor of Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures at the Graduate Center and professor and chairperson of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at John Jay College, received the inaugural Anna M. Cienciala Award for best-edited book in Polish Studies from the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (PIASA).

The award recognized Gombrowicz in Transnational Context: Translation, Affect, and Politics (published by Routledge in 2019), which examines the work and life of Witold Gombrowicz through a transnational lens. Gombrowicz, who wrote plays, novels, short stories, and a diary of essays and notes recognized as a masterpiece, was born in Poland, where he lived for the first half of his life. He spent 24 years in Argentina before living in West Berlin and Vence, France.

“The themes of translation, affect, and politics, which have often been sidestepped — without being altogether ignored — in treating Gombrowicz, structure my approach to his work, dividing the book into these three sections,” Dapía says. Although the “transnational context” in the title has multiple meanings, she says, “it occurred to me that a possible way of guaranteeing new perspectives on Gombrowicz’s oeuvre was bringing together scholars that belong not only to different countries but different departments as well.”

To that end, Dapía says, she put together a volume that allowed readers to experience a wide variety of voices on Gombrowicz, including specialists in Slavic and Latin American literatures, as well as cultural and literary theorists. “Another compelling reason for this project was the fact that while Gombrowicz is a prominent figure in Polish, French, and Argentinian literature, he deserves a wider recognition in the English-speaking world,” she says.

Dapia will be recognized as the recipient during PIASA’s 8th World Congress in Białystok, Poland, in June.

“This award is especially meaningful to me because of the role PIASA played in its conception,” says Dapía. “I organized two sessions on Gombrowicz for the Fifth World Congress on Polish Studies that PIASA sponsored in Warsaw in 2014, which introduced me to many of the scholars who later contributed to my edited volume. Since then, I have organized other sessions at PIASA and at a Gombrowicz conference in Argentina. So, the development of this volume owes much to PIASA

The volume discusses issues of translation, affect, and politics in the work of the Argentinean-Polish author Witold Gombrowicz through a transnational lens, linking thus several contexts (Argentine, Polish, German, and French cultures) rather than in a single nation-state, and paying particular attention to transnational themes such as diaspora consciousness, multiple identifications, cultural blending, construction of places by transference and re-grounding of meanings derived from specific geographical and historical points of origins, among others.


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