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Hybrid Genres as a Platform for Social History Representation in Recent Latvian Literature

Sun, June 3, 10:00 to 11:30am, History Corner (450 Serra Mall, Building 200), 015


Contemporary Latvian literature has witnessed the rise of several new genres that connect fiction and nonfiction: minimas, poems with long titles, documentary poetry, global thrillers, literary diaries, notes, articles, fragments, letters, and talks. These genres process topical local and global political events of the present time with various degrees of intensity. Texts are produced by professional writers who are also experienced commentators of major periodicals of Latvia. Various literary backgrounds and a panoramic view of the homogeneous society of Latvia are the basis for genre intermixing, leading to creolization of genres. Mixed genres are syncretic interpretations of the latest events in Latvia being integrated into global historical processes. Hybrid genres represent the search for innovative literary forms and modern poetic devices. This is exemplified in Aivars Eipurs’ two collections of minimas: “Minimas jeb Zemestrīce zābakā” (Minimas or Earthquake in a Boot, 2013) and “Minimas jeb vienā istabā ar Antonu Vēbernu” (Minimas or In One Room with Anton Webern, 2008). Minimas reflect the fast-paced 21st century as to their compact form. Their subject matter is patriotic, intellectual, ironic, pungent, and related to everyday life. Minimas entail a range of intellectual and material culture signs of various epochs. Inese Zandere’s book “Kuģa žurnāls” (The Ship’s Log Book, 2016) is a syncretic body of texts uniting interpretations of documentary texts in the form of nonfiction with a partial use of fictional devices. To illustrate the heteroglossia of the book more fully, the title contains a subtitle that characterizes hybrid textuality: “Notes, articles, fragments, letters, talks." The subtitle, in fact, refers to the e-mails and notes within the text. A. Eipurs’ and I. Zandere’s works provide clear evidence of the horizon of expectations of Latvian society as the set of historically, psychologically, and culturally conditioned assumptions or conventions that are implicit in the interpretive strategy of a reader; the ideology of monoglossia enforced in the Soviet period is replaced by that of heteroglossia, code mixing relating to individual identity, and/or code switching under the impact of various socio-economic factors, poetically inclusive denotations of everyday realia.

Short Bio

Maija Burima - PhD in comparative literature studies; the corresponding member of Latvian Academy of Sciences, Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Daugavpils University and researcher at the Institute of Literature, Folklore, and Art of the University of Latvia. She has published academic monographs: Ibsen in Latvia, 2007, Concepts of Modernism in Latvian literature at the beginning of the 20th century, 2011, and about 190 artic. in Latvian, English, Russian, Estonian, Lithuanian.