Indiana University Bloomington

Joanna Niżyńska, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Joanna Nizynska

Office number: GA 4029
Office telephone: (812) 855-7351
E-mail address:

Degree: Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles, 2002.

Specialties/Research Interests: Comparative approaches to Polish studies; trauma and post-memory in post-Communist countries; "glocalization" of Western theory in Eastern Europe, gender and queer studies; writing history of "minor literatures"; Polish-American poetic relations; rewriting Classics in modern literature.


Selected Publications:

The Kingdom of Insignificance: Miron Białoszewski and the Quotidian, the Queer, and the Traumatic (Northwestern University Press, 2013).

Germany, Poland, and Postmemorial Relations: In Search of a Livable Past, edited by Kristin Kopp and Joanna Niżyńska (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Traumatyczne, codzienne, queer: Królestwo wieloznaczności Mirona Białoszewskiego. Trans. Agnieszka Pokojska (Cracow: Universitas, forthcoming 2013).


"Globalization and Its Discontents: Notes on Polish Studies in an Age of Globalization," East European Politics and Societies, forthcoming 2013.

"Zazdrość o centrum: Miłosz Białoszewski i językowe zakorzenienie" ("Center Envy: Miłosz, Białoszewski, and the Desire for Linguistic Rootedness"), Warszawa Miłosza; (Miłosz's Warsaw), ed. Marek Zaleski (Warsaw: Institute of Literary Research, forthcoming 2013).

"The Something More of 'almost nothing': Miron Białoszewski's Kairotic Everyday," Interpretations: European Research Project for Poetics & Hermeneutics, vol 4.5 (2011): 295-309.

"The Politics of Mourning and the Crisis of Poland's Symbolic Language after April 10, 2010," East European Politics and Societies, vol.24.4 (2010): 467-479.

"Polish Literature Twenty Years After," East European Politics and Societies, Vol. 23.4 (2009): 567-69. Special anniversary issue on Eastern Europe since 1989 ("East-Central European Literatures Twenty Years After") guest-edited by Michal Heim.

"Traumatyczny, codzienny, queer: 'Znaleziony list' Mirona Białoszewskiego" ("The Traumatic, the Everyday, and the Queer: Miron Białoszewski's 'Purloined Letter'"), (Nie)obecność: pominięcia i przemilczenia w narracjach XX wieku (Non-Presence: Gaps and Silences in 20th Century Polish Narrations, eds. Hanna Gosk and Bożena Karwowska (Warsaw: University of Warsaw Press, 2008), 272-91.

"Impossibility of Shrugging One's Shoulders: O'Harists, O'Hara, and Post-1989 Polish Poetry, "Slavic Review: Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, vol. 66 (2007): 43-84.

"Things Post-German: Stefan Chwin's Death in Danzig." Transitions Online (, an online scholarly journal covering post-communist countries. May 5, 2005.

"Marsyas' Howl: The Myth of Marsyas in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Zbigniew Herbert's 'Apollo and Marsyas.'" Comparative Literature: Journal of the American Comparative Literature Association, Vol. 53 (2001): 151-70.

Work in Progress:

A History of Polish Literature and Culture: New Perspectives on the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. eds. Przemysław Czapliński (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland), Joanna Niżyńska, and Tamara Trojanowska (University of Toronto, Canada), planned to be submitted to publisher in May 2014.

Interdisciplinary project with collaboration of some fifty scholars from Europe, United States, and Canada. Comprehensive treatment of Polish literature and culture from the interwar period to the present; the first major literary history of Poland in forty years, bringing recent theoretical approaches to bear on questions of Polish literature at home and abroad. Sponsored by Instytut Książki. Currently under review.

Invited Public Lectures:

05/2013 "Traumatic Fantasies and Historical Pains: Memory and Imagination in Post-1989 Poland," University Seminar Series, Columbia University, New York

03/2013 "Traumatic Reproductions: Affect and Memory in Post-1989 Poland," Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois, Chicago

02/2012 "Center Envy: Miłosz, Białoszewski, and the Desire for Linguistic Rootedness," Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

09/2010 "Gdańsk/Danzig, Chwin/Grass and Polish-German Post-Memorial Relations," Ziegler Visiting Speaker Series, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

04/2010 "Uniqueness and Banality: Contextualizing Białoszewski in Polish Literature," Guest speaker for "The Salt of Structure: A Celebration of Miron Białoszewski," organized by "Poetry Project at St. Marks Church" in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute in New York

04/2009 "'Queer' Before 'Gay': Globalization of Theory and the Case of Poland," New Faculty Series, Humanities Center, Harvard University

06/2007 "Transforming Memory: The Challenge of Miron Baiłoszewski's A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising to the Study of Trauma," Institute for Slavic Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

03/2004 "Everyday Traumas, Traumatic Everydays: Literature, the Quotidian, and the Theory of Trauma," Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago

02/2004 "In Search of the Normal: O'Hara, the O'Harists, and Post-1989 Polish Poetry," Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

02/2002 "'Almost Nothing is Happening': Miron Białoszewski's Kairotic Everyday," Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Invited Conference and Workshop Presentations:

02/2013 "Polish Studies in the Age of Cultural Globalization," Conference and Workshop, "The End of the Story? Problems and Perspectives of East European Literary Studies," Princeton University

10/2011 "Zazdrość o centrum: Miłosz, Białoszewski i 'prapolskie kumkanie'" ("Center Envy: Miłosz, Białoszewski, and Proto-Polish Croaking"), Interational Session "Warszawa Miłosza" ("Miłosz's Warsaw"), Institute of Literary Research (IBL), Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (PAN, Warsaw, Poland

05/2009 "The Rhetoric of Resemblance" Exploratory Seminar, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

01/2009 "Towards and Beyond Palimpsest" (discussant), International Conference, "The Effect of the Palimpsest," University of Chicago

04/2008 "Synchronic Belatedness: Queer Theory and Polish Academic Discourse," International Conference in Polish Studies, Polish Studies Center, Indiana University, Bloomington

12/2007 "Traumatyczny, codzienny, queer: 'Znaleziony list' Mirona Białoszewskiego" ("The Traumatic, the Everyday, and the Queer: Miron Białoszewski's 'Purloined Letter'"), International Conference "Gaps, Silences, Concealments and Erasures in 20th Century Narrations," Institute of Polish Literature, Warsaw University, Warsaw, Poland

12/2007 "Uprising/Blockade, Warsaw/Leningrad, Poems/Prose" (co-authored with Stephanie Sandler, Harvard University), International Conference "Women and War: World War II," University of Pittsburgh

04/2007 "Future Projects and Transatlantic Cooperation," Roundtable, International Conference on "Polish-German Post/Memory: Aesthetics, Ethics, Politics," Indiana University, Bloomingon

02/2006 "Wounds of Gdańsk, Wounds of Danzig: Instrumentalizing Traumatic Narratives in Günter Grass' Crabwalk and Stefan Chwin's Death in Danzig" (co-authored with Kristin Kopp, University of Missouri, Columbia), International Conference "In Search of (Creative) Diversity: New Perspectives in Polish Literary and Cultural Studies Abroad," University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

08/2002 "Poland's Trouble with the Normal Day," Junior Scholars' Training Seminar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC

Selected Events Organized:

2006-2011 organized annual Wiktor Weintraub Memorial Lectures at Harvard University (guest speakers included Norman Davies, Adam Zagajewski, Piotr Sommer, Irena Grudzińska-Gross, Krzysztof Czyżewski, Roman Koropeckyj, and Jerzy Jarzębski.)

2008-2010 co-directed Literature and Culture Seminar for visiting speakers, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

02/2010 - "Miłosz and Brodsky: Voice in Poetry," forum on contemporary poetry, co-organized with Prof. Stephanie Sandler, Slavic Department, Harvard University.

11/2009 - "Polish Poetry Now," Poetry reading with Tomasz Różycki, Bożena Keff, Marzanna Kielar, Tadeusz Dąbrowski. Participating translators: Bill Johnston and Antonia Lloyd-Jones, co-sponsored by Polish Cultural Institute, NYC, and Slavic Department, English Department, Davis Center, Harvard University.

04/2007 - "Polish-German Post/Memory: Aesthetics, Ethics, Politics," co-organized of the International Conference, Indiana University, Bloomington

04/2005 - "Remembering Miłosz," co-organized with Michael Flier a commemorative event in celebration of Czesław Miłosz's poetry, Harvard University (with participation of Helen Vendler)

Courses taught (Harvard):

  • Post-1989 Polish Literature: The Arrival of the Others (Slavic 177).
  • Between Avant-Garde and Catastrophism: The Interwar period in Polish Literature and Culture (Slavic 176).
  • Romantic Word, Romantic Deed (Slavic 174).
  • Writing Women in post-1989 Poland (Slavic 171; readings in Polish).
  • Białoszewski:The Art of Private Life (Slavic 179; readings in Polish).
  • Women/Poets (Slavic 158), co-taught with Stephanis Sandler
  • Rebels with a Cause: Dissident Movement in Central Europe (Slavic 197), co-taught with Jonathan Bolton
  • Introduction to Cultural Studies and Literary Theory, or How to Read like a College Professor (Freshman Seminar 38l)
  • Trauma: Representation, Theory, Experience (Literature 178 and Slavic 178)
  • What are Poets for? Poetry and its Function (Freshman Seminar 38s)