Though often unnoticed by scholars of literature and history, Polish American women have for decades been fighting back against the patriarchy they encountered in America and the patriarchy that followed them from Poland. Through close readings of several Polish American and Polish Canadian novels and short stories published over the last seven decades, Writing the Polish American Woman in Postwar Ethnic Fiction traces the evolution of this struggle and women’s efforts to construct gendered and classed ethnicity.
Focusing predominantly on work by North American born and immigrant authors that represents the Polish American Catholic tradition, Grażyna J. Kozaczka puts texts in conversation with other American ethnic literatures. She positions ethnic gender construction and performance at an intersection of social class, race, and sex. She explores the marginalization of ethnic female characters in terms of migration studies, theories of whiteness, and the history of feminist discourse. Writing the Polish American Woman in Postwar Ethnic Fiction tells the complex story of how Polish American women writers have shown a strong awareness of their oppression and sought empowerment through resistive and transgressive behaviors.
Grażyna J. Kozaczka is a distinguished professor of English and the director of the All College Honors Program at Cazenovia College. She is the author of William Dean Howells and John Cheever: The Failure of the American Dream and numerous articles on Polish American literature. She has also authored Old World Stitchery, and articles on Polish folk dress and adornment. More info →
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Moving beyond a traditional study of Polish dramatic literature, Taking Liberties is a masterful intellectual history of what may be called patriotism without borders: a nonnational form of loyalty compatible with the universal principles and practices of democracy and human rights.
Polish émigrés have written poignantly about the pain of exile in letters, diaries, and essays; others, more recently, have recreated Polish-American communities in works of fiction. But it is Danuta Mostwin’s fiction, until now unavailable in English translation, that bridges the divide between Poland and America, exile and emigration. Mostwin and her husband survived the ravages of World War II, traveled to Britain, and then emigrated to the United States.
The Grasinski Girls were working-class Americans of Polish descent, born in the 1920s and 1930s, who created lives typical of women in their day. They went to high school, married, and had children. For the most part, they stayed home to raise their children. And they were happy doing that. They took care of their appearance and their husbands, who took care of them.
Of trailblazing Polish novelist Eliza Orzeszkowa's many works of social realism, Marta is among the best known, but until now it has not been available in English. Easily a peer of The Awakening and A Doll’s House, the novel was well ahead of English literature of its time in attacking the ways the labor market failed women.