Strangers in Their Own Land - CUDZOZIEMKI
FROM Melancholic Migrating Bodies in Contemporary Polish Women's Writing
The “Strangers in their own homes/lands,” as Przemysław Czapliński describes the most recent women writers (making reference also to the feminist debate initiated by Grażyna Borkowska), are not only the subject of analysis, but are also mirrors in which those lands are reflected. From this perspective on melancholy, we can use the melancholic strands in women’s writing to form a diagnosis of Polish patriarchy, which includes unwanted languages, un-talked about subjects and unresolved problems.
 Grażyna Borkowska, Cudzoziemki: studia o polskiej prozie kobiecej, Warszawa: IBL, 1996.
In his 2009 book Poland for Exchange: Late Modernity and our Grand Narratives (Polska do wymiany: późna nowocesność i nasze wielkie narracje), Przemysław Czapliński sees literary discourse as creating several Others who would be defined by this new reality: the Communist (PRL-owiec, the idealist or hypocrite representing the Polish People’s Republic), the Modernist (Nowocześnik, who purports to hold post-modernist ideas), the sexual freak (Odmieniec seksualny, who is either gay or a transvestite), and finally the Jew and the Woman (Czapliński 2009, 277-369).
Czapliński’s popular book seems to represent an general overview, in which a woman is the literally seen as the Other in mainstream discourse. The Other can be seen as someone who destabilizes the order of presupposed “normality.” Such positioning of women writers and women’s writing seems to indicate an interesting shift in mainstream criticism and follows various attempts to re-invent the notion of women writers, by the above mentioned Iwasiów, but also in key texts by Maria Janion, who in her book Women and the Spirit of Otherness (Kobiety i duch inności, 1996) sees women’s writing as an important context for rewriting the mainstream history of Romanticism, politics or heteronormativity.