Mythistory and Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans
Editor: Tatjana Aleksić
Date Of Publication: Apr 2007
The idea of this collection is to bring to the forefront various ways in which the literary poetics of Balkan nations interrelates with their national poetics, and present recent and innovative explorations of literature and film which actively engage with national poetics, a kind of mythopoiesis of the modern Balkans.
In proposing an approach to the national question that lies distinctly in the liminal space best designated as mythistory, the collection brings together two dominant approaches to national discourse. The first tends to interpret the nation as a myth, an artificial creation, an invention, even a “dream.” The other is a mapping of the nation that considers its historically progressive role. It is their multifaceted dynamics that brings to the foreground a unique national mythopoetics.
Mythistory is explored through its multifold engagement with the text: as a major element in the universal nationalist discourse, as a narrative strategy extensively utilized in Balkan literary and film narratives, and as a particular technique in approaching the text. Through the insights gained from literary and critical theory, historical analysis, and cultural anthropology, this collection seeks to reveal the application of mythistorical discourse upon narratives responding to nation-forming historical events. The texts in this collection articulate very distinct agendas of gender, identity, culture, philosophy, and aesthetics, all interwoven with national problematic, but steer away from the definition by which mythistory is relegated to the transparently propagandist.
TATJANA ALEKSIĆ is Assistant Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her major interests include postmodern fiction, Balkan studies, literary theory, postcolonial studies, and nationalism.
"The volume edited by Tatjana Aleksić contains superb essays illuminating the complexities of this region, from Greece, Bosnia, Albania, post-Yugoslavia or the Danube, combined with the most relevant theoretical articulation of the current geopolitical and postcolonial thought, narrative and film theory. The volume probes the founding myths of the area and the historical cataclysms and narratives that develop on their background, from classical Greece to modern times. As such, Mythistory and Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans is an indispensable book."
Dragan Kujundžić, University of Florida, editor of The Other Europe and the Translation of National Identity (2003), and the author of Returns of History (1997).
"The collection Mythistory and Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans succeeds admirably in its goal of “providing new perspectives on Balkan nationalism without falling into either self-denouncing or self-vindicating discourse.” The contributors examine the efforts of Balkan novelists and intellectuals to “write their nations” in the face of centuries of geopolitical and discursive domination by empires to the east and the west: European and American, Ottoman and Soviet. They pose hard questions regarding the adequacy of available narratives of Balkan nationalism. And they invite us to think of
nationalism itself as complex and politically polyvalent mode of being. Both students of Balkan literature and culture and students of “the poetics of the nation” will find much to appreciate and ponder here."
John McClure, Professor of English, Rutgers University
"Just at the moment when discussion of the Balkans seems no longer 'fashionable', this collection comes to prove the centrality of the Balkan problematic both to considerations of contemporary politics and interdisciplinarity itself. The book is an exemplary instance of multiple idioms of interpretation that nonetheless spring from the subject matter itself. *Mythistory and Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans* is a worthy companion to its predecessor, *Balkan as Metaphor*, and is certain to become
standard reference in the debates around globality and nationalism."
—Stathis Gourgouris, Professor of Comparative Literature, UCLA, author of
*Dream Nation* (1996) and *Does Literature Think?* (2003).
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