Laurence Miścicki

Dr Wawrzyniec (Laurence) Miścicki spent one month living at the Trust’s Highgate house in May 2018.

“The subject of my future thesis is an analysis of world-building, semiosis and signs relations manifested through collage and metaphor in literature, focussing on the process of creation, re-creating worlds and the perception of reality in post-World War II Polish novels. The main work analysed in my thesis is “Black Torrent”, an experimental novel written by Polish author Leopold Buczkowski in 1946 (published in 1953, English edition, MIT Press 1970, translation by David Welsh). It deals with the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing of Polish citizens during The Second World War in Eastern Galicia. Episodic, experimental in language and structure, devoid of linear narrative, with the unspecified subjectivity of heroes, and simultaneously saturated with extremely suggestive, brutal descriptions of the hell of the Holocaust, to this day it intrigues critics and readers. Thorough interpretation of such work requires extensive knowledge not only in the field of literary theory, but also semiotics, narratology, dialogism, intertextuality and colonial studies, which is why I have applied for the Robert Anderson Research Charitable Trust grant to conduct a programme of library research in some of the best-equipped institutions in the world.

During my stay in London the main scope of my work was to build a research inventory and theoretical framework for my future thesis through conducting extensive queries in the libraries of various institutions. The bulk of the study was conducted in various University College London institutions and other London facilities (such as The British Library and Warburg Institute). Through it I was able to make advances in such fields as literary theory and criticism, postcolonial studies and semiotics. I have gained access to up to date scientific literature and journals such as the American Journal of Semiotics, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, Textual Practice and even Sign Systems Studies issued by the University of Tartu, Estonia (a prominent research centre on semiotics). I was able to explore modern discourse through such books as: Poststructuralist Discourse Analysis: Subjectivity in Enunciative Pragmatics by Johannes Angermuller and On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism After Structuralism by Jonathan Culler. A significant part of my research was devoted to the field of semiotics in which books like The sign of three: Dupin, Holmes, Peirce, edited by Umberto Eco and Thomas A. Sebeok; The pursuit of signs: semiotics, literature, deconstruction by Jonathan Culler; Why literature? An inquiry into the nature of literary semiosis by Barend van Heusden and The texture of culture: an introduction to Yuri Lotman’s semiotic theory written by Aleksei Semenenko, all proved to be indispensable. Additional critical perspective was provided by the comparative study of different semiotic systems in Semiotics of Poetry by Michael Riffaterre and Liminal Semiotics: Boundary Phenomena in Romanticism by Melanie Maria Lörke. Finally, I was able to explore the present state of semiotic discourse through works like: New Essays on Umberto Eco, edited by Peter Bondanella or Reinventing Structuralism: What Sign Relations Reveal About Consciousness by Rodney B. Sangster.

A special part of my research was devoted to the subject of intertextuality, dialogism and collage. Several important works which I was able to gain access to through my stay in London should be named here: Intertextuality: debates and contexts by Mary Orr; Bakhtin and his Others: (inter)subjectivity, chronotope, dialogism, a collection edited by Liisa Steinby and Tintti Klapuri; Dialogism: Bakhtin and his world by Michael Holquist; Revising life through literature: dialogical change from the Reformation through postmodernism by Joyce D. Brotton and finally Collage in twentieth-century art, literature and culture by Rona Cran.

Through analysis of these and many other works I was able to fully execute my plan for my London visit and prepare a thorough theoretical framework with specific methods for my thesis. The inquiries conducted under the supervision of The Trust were indispensable and vital for my research, and its results will benefit me in my academic work for the years to come. For that, I am very grateful to the Trust for providing me with this unique opportunity.”