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English Edition of Kultura Popularna

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English Edition of Kultura Popularna

The newest edition of Kultura Popularna (Popular Culture), a peer-reviewed academic publication of SWPS University, explores myths of domesticity present in American culture. The issue, available in English, contains articles written by a group of scholars who tackle a variety of themes related to the topic of domesticity, such as the sense of home, the role of American West in the country’s mythology, patriarchal domesticity, rebellion against various forms of domesticity, including the post-September 11 omnipresent surveillance system, and finally the irony of home as a source of threat.

The sense of home and the myth of American West

Home may refer to a building, a place or a state of mind. Agnieszka Kaczmarek focuses on selected writings by Edward Abbey and discusses the places which the writer designates as home, how he mythologizes his birthplace and how he sentimentalizes his boyhood nest. Kaczmarek explores the fragments in which the author employs the word home with reference to various locations that he defines as home, and which are not necessarily located in his cherished American West.

Justyna Fruzińska discusses Frances Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans, a famous account of the writer’s travel in the United States of America undertaken in the 1820s. While the early modern accounts of the New World, including Columbus’s, give voice to the travelers’ amazement and enchantment, Trollope in many respects expresses a con¬trary sentiment, creating a vision of America as an unpleasantly uncivilized country, with people lacking in sophistication and nature being dangerous and chaotic.

By the end of the 19th century, the opinion of American Midwest was totally different when seen through the eyes of the Children’s Aid Society of New York. Małgorzata Gajda-Łaszewska focuses on the “Orphan Train” program, which aimed to relocate a large number of poor children form New York tenements to the countryside in the hope of providing them with a better life. The scheme is viewed through its central metaphor of “home” which refers not only to the homes found for the orphans but also the homes of the emerging bourgeois class as well as the tenement dwellings. The program employed community based, self-help solutions which drew on the traditional American values of family, home and hard work and attempted to address new ills with well-established methods of indentured work.

Patriarchal domesticity

Domesticity from a woman’s perspective is discussed in two articles written by Brygida Gasztold and Agnieszka Gondor-Wiercioch.

Focusing on Julie Otsuka’s novel The Buddha in the Attic, Brygida Gasztold explores the experiences of dislocation, otherness, assimilation and exclusion which mark the American lives of Japanese picture brides - women who arrived in San Francisco in the early 1900’s for arranged marriages. Gasztold offers a discussion about Japanese American women protagonists who must constantly reinvent themselves subjected by the forces guided by discourse of culture, ethnicity, and gender. From their perspective, America as home is transvalued, revealing itself as the site of unhomeliness, insecurity, and violence.

Agnieszka Gondor-Wiercioch explores the injustice of patriarchal culture addressed by Sandra Cisneros’ short story collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. Gondor-Wiercioch proves that Cisneros wisely complicates the ethnic story of looking for one’s history and identity to show a feminist quest for autonomy, visible not only on the level of content but also on the level of form, which to some extent is an homage to oral tradition and to famous Mexican women writers Rosario Castellanos, Elena Garro and Juan Rulfo.

Kultura Popularna (Popular Culture) is a transdisciplinary publication of SWPS University that addresses a variety of cultural phenomena. The publication accepts articles from different disciplines, such as cultural studies, history, anthropology, and sociology. 

Read the Full Issue of Popular Culture »

Kultura Popularna (Popular Culture) invites writers to submit articles for the next issue focused on the theme: "Between History and Popular Culture."
More information »

 

Rebellion against domesticity

Those that have been deprived of domesticity long for it, but people, especially young ones, who grow up in middle-class families and in stable affluent societies often rebel against the “bourgeois” way of life and values. Mirosław Miernik, Daria Urbańska, Paweł Stachura and Anna Oleszczuk discuss the acts of rebellion against domesticity.

Mirosław Miernik focuses on the conflict between youth and domestic values in 1950s America on the example of the movies The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause. Daria Urbańska explores the journey in to the “ragged promised land,” in On the Road by Jack Kerouac, seen as an escape of the main character from his roots and from the conformity of American society. Paweł Stachura discusses Henry David Thoreau’s domestic spatial imagery in Walden. Thoreau rebels against domesticity by means of a rhetorical transformation of domesticity into a set of unusual images. In her article, Anna Oleszczuk focuses on rebellion against machine-like functions of the post-September 11 society analyzing Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina.

Home as a source of threat

Patrycja Antoszek discusses Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lovely House” in which the family home, with its uncanny architecture and supernatural elements, becomes the seat of oppressive and entrapping domesticity. Antoszek explores the writer’s concerns about very real horrors of domesticity and femininity in mid-century America. In Shirley’s story it is the idealization of domesticity, its power to entrap as well as the idea of selfhood established by domestic fictions, which are the greatest sources of anxiety experienced by many American housewives, ideally immobilized and isolated in their lovely suburban homes. The paper argues that Jackson’s story not only continues the tradition of the Female Gothic but also complicates the idea of patriarchal domination by showing women as prisoners of domestic fictions woven by themselves.

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