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Polish Queer Modernism


Piotr Sobolczyk

This book is a study of twentieth century Polish literature in the contexts of queer theory, psychoanalysis and modernism studies. It presents readings of well-known authors such as Witold Gombrowicz or of authors gaining international fame such as Miron Białoszewski, as well as essays on other important, but less known Polish writers. The book also offers theoretical ideas relevant outside the Polish context: the idea of «homoinfluence», the «enigmatic signifier» and its role in «paranoid cultures», the overlapping of Jewishness and queer, the discussion of queer fables for children, or the new approach to the idea of «camp» and its relation to commodity fetishism.
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Chapter Six: Central European Communist Camp


Historizing, localizing camp

Although the theory of camp recognises its historical beginnings, certified by the first documented use of the word “camp” as a style or performance in 1909, and although it recognises to some extent the historical and economical contexts (i.e. that the style was recognised or as belonging to upper classes, or as a parody of upper classes behaviour, or as an upper class wannabe) – too little attention has been paid to historical and geocultural differences in the production of camp, especially when there were economical differences involved. In short, camp theory, which is mostly a “Western” one, produced a “Western-centered” description of camp and this fact is its blindspot. Despite the distrustfulness toward universalisms or universalisations both in the, so to say, gay-marginal-phase and in the queer-theory-influenced-phase, camp studies have overlooked the crucial, as I would argue, relation between (Western) camp and market economy and commodity fetishism. I cannot speak for Asian, African and other versions of camp, and I can only intuitively suggest these cultures also produce a “camp space”, but probably differently located on the maps of cultural phenomena and scales of judgment; e.g. some part of Bollywood movies to the Western eye might seem camp while to the Indian eye they might not, yet there might be a phenomenon (perhaps unrecognisable to the Western eye) which performs the function similar as (Western) camp in Western cultures. My attempt is to describe the Central European version of camp produced under communism...

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