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Motion and Emotion: Cultural Literacy on the Move

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Prof. Naomi Segal (Birkbeck University of London)
Dr. Maciej Maryl
(Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences)


Cultural literacy is an ability to view the social and cultural phenomena that shape our lives – bodies of knowledge, fields of social action, individuals or groups, and of course cultural artefacts – as being essentially readable. Cultural literacy engages with interdisciplinarity, multilingualism and collaboration. It is a way of looking at social and cultural issues through the lens of literary thinking, employing communication, comparison and critique on a scale beyond that of one language or one nation-state, and avoiding abstraction. Furthermore, it is as much about innovation and creative practice – whether scholarly, artistic or social – as it is about analysis, and it very often brings these two methods together.

The papers collected in this volume revolve around the issue of motion, which is crucial for the contemporary human condition. The concept of motion captures the state of affairs in Europe today, where seemingly rock-solid arrangements, like the shapes of borders, are being nullified and apparently irreversible processes, like European integration, are turned around and dismantled. It marks our spatial relations, as is clearly visible in the challenges of migration, experiences of social and professional mobility, social movements or tourism, as well as linguistic corollaries such as multilingualism & translation. But it also has a temporal aspect, which is visible in the processual and performative character of identity, memory or history. The other key term which is addressed in this publication is emotion, which aims to contextualize this movement and localize it in human affectivity – feelings, motives and perceptions. Texts and other kinds of representations, the body in movement, forging personal links, living with memories – all these bring motion and emotion together. The notion of cultural literacy was employed here to read and comprehend these diverse, changeful phenomena.

This issue contains selected papers from the Second Biennial Conference on Cultural Literacy in Europe, entitled (e)motion, organised by the Cultural Literacy in Europe Forum and the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, on 10-12 May 2017.

The articles collected here examine contemporary cultural literacy from various perspectives and on diverse materials, as well as with different aims. The volume opens with an essay by Robert Crawshaw, who tries to assess the contribution cultural literacy may have for our digital lives, followed by Marek Zaleski, who discusses the fluidity of our contemporary mediaspaces focusing on the example of Leos Carax’ Holy motors. Other papers in this vein assess the contemporary media environment from the perspective of literary reading (Jiří Trávníček), conversations supplemented with web searches (Jerzy Stachowicz), or participating in Facebook migrant groups (Teodor Ajder).

Another block of articles explores the issue of movement on material drawn from visual arts. Dorota Jarecka examines Honorata Martin’s art project, which documented the artist’s long walk through Poland, Iuliia Lashchuk analyses a project by Lia Dostlieva and Andrii Dostliev as versions of the reconstruction of memory of displaced migrants, while Katarzyna Kociołek explores metaphors of mobility in British fashion. In the last paper of this section, Paweł Mościcki describes his work on the Refugee Atlas, a contemporary, digital take on Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne.

The following group of articles deals with representations of affect and mobility in literary fiction. Authors discuss Krys Lee’s The Believer (Jean Owen), Michel Houellebecq's Platform (Claire Lozier), Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs (Dana Badulescu), and Salman Rushdie’s Shame (Jurate Radaviciute). Agnieszka Dauksza focuses on non-fiction writing, as she analyses the affective encounters between hosts and migrants on Lampedusa island, while Joanna Maj focuses on tourist peregrination on the basis of literary tourist guides.

The last section is dedicated to cultural literacy in action and it brings elaborated descriptions and discussions of workshops whose aim was to deploy and display the transformative potential of cultural literacy. Those papers also contain supplementary materials, which provide more context about the dynamics of those events. The first two essays describe workshops that took place during the CLE 2017 conference in Warsaw. Gabriel García Ochoa, Sarah McDonald and Nicholas Monk give an account of the use of open-space learning techniques for teaching cultural literacy, whereas Madeleine Campbell and Laura González demonstrate the intersemiotic translation between text and image in their rendition of the “Wozu Poesie?” project. Ricarda Vidal and Manuela Perteghella investigate the transformation of the notion of “home” through a series of poetry-translation workshops. Heather Connelly describes a participatory art-research project which encouraged individuals from different linguistic communities to engage in intercultural dialogue.
The editors believe that the approaches presented in this volume may be considered a valid contribution to many sub-disciplines of cultural and literary studies, understood in the widest and most dynamic sense.

Maciej Maryl, Warsaw
Naomi Segal, London
December 2018


Beyond Emotion: Empathy, Social Contagion and Cultural Literacy
Crawshaw, Robert DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0061

Mediascape’s Drifter
Zaleski, Marek DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0052

Reading and Our Life Stories
Trávníček, Jiří DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0054

Digitally Assisted Conversation—Google and Changes in Literacy Practices
Stachowicz, Jerzy DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0074

Romanian Diasporic Facebook Groups as Public Spheres
Ajder, Teodor DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0065

New Peredvizhniki, Or Artists On The Move
Jarecka, Dorota DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0017

Displaced Art and the Reconstruction of Memory: Ukrainian Artists from Crimea and Donbas
Lashchuk, Iuliia DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0063

Dress and Metaphors of Mobility in British Visual Culture
Kociołek, Katarzyna DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0064

Migrant Images. Refugees between Pathos and Montage
Mościcki, Paweł  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0047

Immigration, Incest and Post-Nationality in Krys Lee’s “The Believer”
Owen, Jean DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0016

Empowering Signs: Writing and e-motions in Michel Houellebecq’s Platform
Lozier, Claire  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0060

Ian McEwan’s Parable of Reading in Black Dogs
Bădulescu, Dana DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0053

Jurate Radaviciute, Devoid of (E)motion: Farah’s Story
Radaviciute, Jurate DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0072

Literary Tourist Guides as a Form of New Literary History. A Popular Genre in the Field of Professional Literary Knowledge
Maj, Joanna  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0045

Affective Diffusion Between Migrants and Inhabitants. Art Based on Migrant Movement
Dauksza, Agnieszka DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0024

Adapting Open-space Learning Techniques to Teach Cultural Literacy
Ochoa, Gabriel García / McDonald, Sarah / Monk, Nicholas DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0046

“Wozu Image?” / What’s the Point of Images? Exploring the Relation between Image and Text through Intersemiotic Translation and Its Embodied Experience
Campbell, Madeleine / González, Laura DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0062

Translation as Movement: Migration and Notions of “Home”
Vidal, Ricarda / Perteghella, Manuela DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0055

Translation Zone(s): A Stuttering: An Experiential Approach to Linguistic Hospitality
Connelly, Heather DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0015