RESEARCH EXCELLENCE INITIATIVE
BACK TO MOBILITY
“Back to mobility” series
consists in accounts on research expeditions
of the “Staff mobility” winners
Wojciech Śmieja, PhD, DSc, Assoc. Prof.
Account of the scientific internship n New York
Until recently, vehicle manufacturers used dummies with average male body proportions to design and test safety systems. As a result, the mortality of female drivers was higher than that of male drivers. The disclosure of this asymmetry forced car companies to rethink safety rules and vehicle design. This is one of many examples of how gender research changes our lives for the better and fairer. I am proud that my research, books, and articles for almost twenty years have been focusing on discovering and describing the mechanisms of our ideas about gender and sexuality in the Polish literary and cultural universe. I believe that to some extent they also contribute to social change, or at least enrich our cultural self-awareness and social sensitivity.
The three-month stay at the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at the Stony Brook University in New York was an extension of my research activity carried out at the University of Silesia under the grant “Masculinity in Polish literature and culture from the 19th century to the present day” (carried out in 2013-2017). As a visiting scholar, I had the opportunity to participate in various academic activities at the host university, but also at Columbia University or Touro College, giving a lecture on the ideology of masculinity in contemporary right-wing political radicalism, and, what I consider most important, meeting other researchers dealing with masculinity studies, including with Professor Michael Kimmel, a world-renowned sociologist, and historian of masculinity.
Conversations, consultations, and bibliographic queries gave me the impulse to continue my research work consisting in describing the extraordinary complexity of narrative forms of representing the experience of masculinity, not only within literary conventions, but also, for example, in personal documents, such as diaries (which I devoted to the lecture entitled “Masculinity, Disability, and Politics in War-Disabled Memoirs “at the conference” Men and Masculinities under Socialism “at the University of Bern). Since my stay in the USA in 2018, volumes of articles and thematic issues of journals appeared i.a. co-edited by me. I presented the most interesting new scientific items to Polish readers in the specialist press in the form of reviews, while publications and conference presentations abroad allowed for the inclusion of local research issues in the global bloodstream. My original book will soon be published, presenting the variety of literary conventions of the story about masculinity in the century between 1918 and 2018, but also mapping the global theoretical field of critical studies of men and masculinity, which will allow a growing group of Polish researchers to gain a better orientation in this increasingly dense discourse networks.
It will be a cliche to say that a stay in a metropolis like New York must be spent on visiting galleries, museums, concerts and, simply, immersing yourself in the layers of the city. I devoted every free moment to the city and its attractions, which I documented photographically, as street photography is my hobby. I am happy to share with you a few frames from my collection.