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Writing in war, writing on war: the dissolution of Yugoslavia in literary discourse

Obradović, D.; (2009) Writing in war, writing on war: the dissolution of Yugoslavia in literary discourse. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This study examines the literary production of five writers from the former Yugoslavia during the civil war of the 1990s. These writers include Semezdin Mehmedinović, Slobodan Selenić, Vladimir Arsenijević, Dubravka Ugrešić and David Albahari. The central concern of this thesis is to analyse the engagement of their literary narratives in relation to the actual and symbolic waging of war as these works respond, in equal measure, to destruction of homes (homeland) and populations as well as the discursive dissemination of national import. This thesis brings these writers together under the categories of war front, home front, and exile (or migratory movements) which provide a comparative bridge not predicated on the national dimension of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The first chapter considers Mehmedinović’s Sarajevo blues which attests to life under siege and under direct authority of warfare, military logic and the international media organ. The second chapter on Selenić and Arsenijević is schematized through the home front: the territory from which war is displaced (as a material force) but that still registers a change in socio-economic living conditions as a result of severe sanctioning throughout the 1990s. Chapters three and four are focused on the exilic and migratory movements of Ugrešić and Albahari respectively: the critical dimension of their narratives demonstrates the doubled perspective of being elsewhere and not at home, analysing and writing on the war with a clarity and distance which establishes the grounds for judgment. This thesis contributes to the academic knowledge on the subject of Yugoslavia’s break-up by redressing a discursive imbalance that was weighed in favour of social sciences and history. Discussing literary discourse in the context of war explicitly demands that literature be understood as socially relevant. This thesis corrects the paucity of material that has been devoted to examining the contribution of these writers while simultaneously demonstrating how literature can carve out a role of critique, autonomous from homogenizing discourses of the period.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Writing in war, writing on war: the dissolution of Yugoslavia in literary discourse
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES

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