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Narratives of Belonging in Romanian American Diaspora Literature


 



This follow-up panel of the “Diasporic Voices: Tears, Silences, Laughter” conference focused on the diaspora imaginary of belonging through the experiences of featured Romanian American writers: Carmen Bugan, Mihaela Moscaliuc and Domnica Rădulescu. Supported by the Phantasma Centre for Imagination Studies, the Centre for African Studies, and the Centre for Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean Studies, this panel was convened by the Immigration Research Forum, which hosts the Romanian American Literary Circle (RALC). The literary circle is dedicated to highlighting the voices and contributions of diaspora writers within the host nation setting. The panel’s sub-topics of memory and nostalgia were approached as constantly renegotiated constructs of autobiographical narrative identity.


Formal Opening Remarks:

Prof. Dr. Sergiu Mișcoiu, Assoc. Prof.Laura T. Ilea and Mohamed Baya


 

Exploring immigrant resilience through narrative identity constructs,” Teodor Stan

This presentation outlines the experience of establishing a literary circle during the pandemic years, a group of first- and second-generation diaspora writers who attempt negotiate and explore their belonging and their hyphenated cultural identity through this invitational safe space within which they present, share and give feedback while searching for recurrent themes of nostalgia and lived trauma within their predominantly autobiographical work. Using autobiographic narrative identity literature as conceptual tool and qualitative interviews as working mechanism may shed light on the kind of group assisted resilience and host community interventions that may assist immigrants in developing healthy coping strategies through their experience of acculturation and integration.


Teodor Stan is the president of the Immigration Research Forum (IRF) is the convener of several national Conferences of Romanian American Professionals in Washington, DC and established nation-wide field-specific diaspora councils to initiate the mapping of current expertise and peer support mechanisms that nurture the integration and positive visibility of immigrants’ contributions to their host communities. Teodor obtained his Master’s in area studies from the Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and his bachelor’s degree in political science, international affairs and globalization from Bard College, NY.


 

"Resettling in the English Language" Dr. Carmen Bugan

This lecture probes the poet's relationship with an adopted language, acknowledging losses and gains, and offers a glimpse into the experience of writing in-between languages, hovering at the borders between them. As one re-settles in a new language, the native and the adopted languages play more complex and subtle parts in the perception of self and of freedom, as the poet no longer defines one language in terms of another, one experience in terms of another, but seeks a language that brings feelings and experiences from both in a continuously evolving lyric. Writing in an adoptive language ultimately heals and restores one to the language of birth.


Carmen Bugan, George Orwell Prize Fellow, is the author of five poetry collections, among which Lilies from America: New and Selected Poems (a PBS Special Commendation). Her memoir, Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and her monograph on Seamus Heaney and East European Poetry in Translation: Poetics of Exile has received wide recognition. Her book, Poetry and the Language of Oppression: Essays on Politics and Poetics (Oxford University Press, 2021), was named "an essential book for writers" by Poets & Writers; her new book of poems, Time Being, praised by the Irish Times poetry editor for its "disciplined precision," is just out. Bugan was a Creative Arts Fellow in Literature at Wolfson College, Oxford University, and a Hawthornden Fellow. She has a doctorate in English literature from Balliol College, Oxford, and currently teaches at the Gotham Writers' Workshop in Manhattan.


 

“Exophonic Soundbites,” Mihaela Moscaliuc

This talk will place and discuss my writing in the context of various approaches to diasporic identities and diasporic literature, with an emphasis on voice, embracing uncool labels, and the implications of writing in someone else’s tongue, from an absence and out of fissures.


Mihaela Moscaliuc is the author of three poetry collections—Cemetery Ink (2021) and Immigrant Model (2010), both from the University of Pittsburgh Press, and Father Dirt (Alice James Books, 2010) —translator of Liliana Ursu’s Clay and Star (Etruscan Press, 2019) and Carmelia Leonte’s The Hiss of the Viper (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2014), editor of Insane Devotion: On the Writing of Gerald Stern (Trinity University Press, 2016), and co-editor of Border Lines: Poems of Migration (Knopf, 2020). The recipient of two Glenna Luschei Awards from Prairie Schooner, residency fellowships from Chateau de Lavigny (Switzerland), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and MacDowell, an Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and a Fulbright fellowship. She is the translation editor for Plume and Graduate Program Director (M.A. in English) at Monmouth University (New Jersey).


 

"In-between and hyphenated spaces" Prof. Domnica Rădulescu

The presentation will offer a window into her meandering journeys throughout the cultural, linguistic and geographic landscapes that define her existence as an immigrant and citizen of the world, and the ways in which these journeys and negotiations have been processed in several of her most successful works of creative fiction and non-fiction. As part of the presentation, she will read select passages from her recent memoir Dream in a Suitcase and from her novels.


Domnica Rădulescu is an American writer of Romanian origin, living in the United States where she arrived in 1983 as a political refugee from the communist dictatorship of her native Romania. She settled in Chicago where she obtained a master’s degree in Comparative literature and a PhD in Romance Languages from the University of Chicago. She is the Edwin A. Morris Professor of Comparative Literature at Washington and Lee University. Radulescu is the author of three critically acclaimed novels, Train to Trieste (Knopf 2008 &2009), Black Sea Twilight (Transworld 2011 & 2012) and Country of Red Azaleas (Hachette 2016), of award-winning plays. Train to Trieste has been published in thirteen languages and is the winner of the 2009 Library of Virginia Fiction Award. She also published fourteen non-fiction books, edited and co-edited collections on topics ranging from the tragic heroine in western literature to feminist comedy, to studies of exile literature to theater of war and exile, refugee art, and two collections of original plays. Two of her plays, Exile Is My Home and The Town with Very Nice People were runners up for the Jane Chambers Playwriting award in 2012 and 2013. Dream in a Suitcase. The Story of an immigrant Life is her first memoir, and it has been released in January 2022.Radulescu is twice a Fulbright scholar and the founding director of the National Symposium of Theater in Academe.





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