Aleksandra Kremer
I am an Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. My main area of research and teaching is Polish literature and culture, with special interests in modern poetry, sound studies, cultural history, visual arts, Polish-Jewish relations, migration, and translation.
I received a PhD in literary studies from the University of Warsaw, an MPhil in European literature from the University of Cambridge, and two BA/MA degrees, in Polish and English, from the University of Warsaw. Before joining Harvard in 2016, I taught at the University of Warsaw and was a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan.
My first book, Przypadki poezji konkretnej: Studia pięciu książek (The Twists and Turns of Concrete Poetry: Case Studies of Five Books), was published with IBL PAN in 2015. It studies experimental poetics from the 1950s and 1960s and explores the role of book series and book design in the development of concrete poetry movement in German-speaking and Anglophone countries and in Poland, with a special focus on poetry books by Eugen Gomringer, Heinz Gappmayr, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Stanisław Dróżdż, and Witold Wirpsza.
My second book, The Sound of Modern Polish Poetry: Performance and Recording after World War II, was published with Harvard University Press in 2021. It is the first book on Polish poetry to treat vinyl records, reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, CDs, and radio broadcasts as primary sources, and to combine these audio sources with memoirs, journals, and letters in order to reconstruct the atmosphere and cultural significance of both private and public readings and recordings. The book studies how key Polish poets tested the possibilities of their physical voices, often by means of tape recording, and introduced new poetic practices and genres to Polish culture. Their audio recordings reveal new aesthetics of poetry reading and novel concepts of the poetic self that emerged in Poland after World War II.
I am currently working on my third book project, which revisits the question of poetry’s response to the Holocaust, and reexamines the relation between “war literature” and “Holocaust literature” written in Polish in the 1940s. I study the dispersed signals of a new anti-lyrical style of poetry that started to emerge in that decade and ask more broadly about the relation between poetic form and moral reckoning.
My studies and research were supported, among others, by the John F. Cogan Junior Faculty Leave Program from Harvard’s Davis Center; O'Neill Faculty Research Grant from Harvard’s Davis Center; Preludium and Sonata grants from the National Science Centre in Poland; scholarships from the University of Cambridge; Trinity Hall, Cambridge; Corbridge Trust; and the University of Warsaw. I have recently received the Leon and Edith Milman Fellowship from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies for June and July 2022.
At Harvard, I teach survey courses in Polish literature and culture, seminars on theory and European poetry, introductions to Slavic studies (sophomore tutorials), as well as conference courses on twentieth-century Polish culture, poetry, and Holocaust memory.
Photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz