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Book Review

Review of the collection of Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević

Review of the collection of Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević?
published by the Faculty of Philology of the University in Belgrade and the project Кnjiženstvo – Theory and History of Women’s Writing in Serbian until 1915.
Editors: Biljana Dojčinović, Jelena Milinković


Written by: Dr. Zorica Becanović Nikolić, associate professor

Behind the intriguing rhetorical question from the title Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević? are twelve analyses where those who are familiar with the works of Jelena Dimitrijević will find incentive for new interpretations, as well as for new anthropological and cultural research of women’s literature, Balkan feminism, Orientalism, Balkanism and Occidentalism, and for those who are just now discovering her work, they will find motivating guides to her opus which is in the last decade described as the new focus in the canon of Serbian literature. The authors of the analyses are the creators of original scholarly papers which approach the opus of Jelena Dimitrijevic from the perspective of redefining and expanding the merit, the cultural, historical and educational canon of Serbian literature (Magdalena Koh, Zarka Svirčev), editorial practice (Nataša Marković), feminist and national activism (Jasmina Milanović), feminist inter culturalism and trans culturalism (Vladimir Djurić, Jelena Milinković, Slobodanka Peković), the deconstruction of Orientalism and the distinct Balkan crypto-colonialism (Svetlana Slapšak), transnational and transregional concepts which problematize national cultural geography (Vladimir Bošković), cultural-historical and literary evaluation of the authors’ early prose (Slavica Garonja Radovanac), gender transformations and women’s sexuality in Muslim society (Jovana Reba) and Oriental studies as a philological and cultural discipline (Jelena Radovanović). The collection is a new edition to the long line of accomplishments in the scientific research project Кnjizenstvo – Theory and History of Women’s Writing in Serbian until 1915, which is partly or in full devoted to the personality and opus of Jelena Dimitrijević (the digital data base, the magazine, the international scientific conference, the round table discussion of Jelena Dimitrijević) and represents a valuable scholarly addition to the disciplines of Serbian cultural history, the study of literature, the comparative research of literature and culture, gender theory, ethnology and cultural anthropology. The collection, which was edited by Biljana Dojčinović and Jelena Milinković in accordance with the highest criteria of social-humanist sciences, deserves to be published and available both to the scientific community and wider public.

Dr. Zorica Becanović Nikolić, Associate Professor at the Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade. PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory (2005), University of Belgrade; Doctoral Studies Research, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona (1999-2000), M Phil in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory (1998), University of Belgrade; BA in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory (1988), BA in English Language and Literature (1986), University of Belgrade. Postdoctoral research (2009), University College London: SSEES, British Academy Visiting Research Fellow. Author of three monographs in Serbian U traganju za Šekspirom (Looking for Shakespeare), Beograd: Dosije, 2013; Šekspir iza ogledala (Shakespeare through the Looking Glass: The Conflict of Interpretations in the Reception of Shakespeare’s History Plays in the Twentieth Century), Beograd: Geopoetika, 2007; Hermeneutika i poetika: Teorija pripovedanja Pola Rikera (Hermeneutics and Poetics: Paul Ricoeur’s Theory of Narrative), Beograd: Geopoetika, 1998. She has also published a number of critical studies and essays dealing with Shakespeare and postmodern theory, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Serbian contemporary fiction and poetry, as well as a number of translations from English and French. Teaches Shakespeare, Medieval and Renaissance Literatures in Europe, Shakespeare and Postmodern Theory, Shakespeare and European Cultures. Zorica Bečanović-Nikolić has participated in two international research projects: Mémoireperdue, mémoirevolée: Investigations littérairesen Europe centrale et orientale, 2004-2005 (INALCO, Paris, L’Uuniversité Paris IV-Sorbonne, L’Université jagellone de Cracovie, Univerzitet u Beogradu, Filološki fakultet, School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, London) and La construcción estética de Europa: la idea europea enlose scritores y artistasdesde la Edad Media al siglo XX. (MICINN Ministerio de ciencia e innovación de España, FFI2010-16796). She has also participated in two national research projects: Theoretical and historical review of the Comparatist Terminology in Serbian Culture (Ministry of education and science of the Republic of Serbia project No. 148006, 2006-2010) and Кnjiženstvo – Theory and History of Women’s Writing in Serbian until 1915 Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia project No 178029, 2011-2014. Zorica Bečanović-Nikolić lectures, writes and publishes in Serbian, English, French and Spanish.

Review of the collection of Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević?
The abstract of the review

Written by: Prof. dr. Ljiljana Bajić

 The collection Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević? is the result of a hardworking research team of authors brought together by the project Кnjiženstvo – Theory and History of Women’s Writing in Serbian until 1915 and the Round Table Discussion of Jelena Dimitrijević which was held at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade in 2016. From the title itself, from its question form to the polemic search of an answer to the status of Jelena Dimitrijević’s work in our time, we find that a productive dialog with Jelena Dimitrijević’s spiritual inheritance and its multicultural values was created and achieved in the collection. Reexamining the literary, cultural and educational inheritance of Jelena Dimitrijević and the reception of her works in science and critique but also in University and High School education, the works presented in the collection also implicitly deal with questions of canon, especially the relationship between literary and educational canon. It is well known that within both canons there exists a certain hierarchy between what happens in the center and what happens at the margins of the system, but there is also the possibility of their reinterpretation and reevaluation in accordance with literary movements and cultural changes outside the system. In that sense, the works in the collection confirm that the modern reception of Jelena Dimitrijević’s work should influence her position and inclusion within the current educational canon. In the conclusion it’s shown that the question from the title of the collection is truly purposeful, and so is the question of whether Jelena Dimitrijević is an educational writer or not. And the reason for this is because an adequate response may help today’s readers, pupils and students discover a role model in an educated writer and adopt educational values that are connected to such a person. Jelena Dimitrijević spoke many languages and was knowledgeable in many cultures which she had visited as a traveler and described as a travel writer. At the same time she is a patriot and a women’s rights activist as well as involved in the cultural life and social history of Serbia during the second half of the XIX century and the first half of the XX century. With the high educational standards she has set, along with her linguistic knowledge and skill in her native language and other languages, and her cultural consciousness, Jelena Dimitrijević stepped into the era of modern growth which is meant to affirm the concept of multicultural values in her educational programs. In the collection Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević, the authors analyze and judge many aspects of this author’s works, which draws much attention even today. In the pages of the collection we are faced with facts which allow us to conclude that as an Orientalist, feminist and a member of the Serbian culture and other cultures Jelena Dimitrijević would, with her presence in the school curriculum, allow a certain measure of change in the Eurocentric model of curricula which accentuates Europe as the only civilizational pattern, ignores non-European literature and favorites European literature. The value of the collection is therefore connected with the fact that by pointing out the plurality of the Balkan world of Jelena Dimitrijević, it not only helps to develop our consciousness and cultural identity but also our willingness to live in a multicultural society. Under the conditions of inter-culturalism which accepts and articulates the relationship and communication between different cultures,the works of Jelena Dimitrijević give examples of existence, affirmation, interlacing and acceptance of different cultural patterns as cognitive and different practices in the world. In the end it should be pointed out that the collection dedicated to Jelena Dimitrijević not only shows that we should read her work but also that it should be used for educational purposes. In that way, the collection opens up the possibilities of new interpretations and of adding Jelena Dimitrijević to the educational program of Serbia. The author of this review wholeheartedly recommends this collection.

 Dr. Ljiljana Bajić was born in 1950 in Bajina Bašta. She graduated from elementary and high school in Belgrade. She majored in Yugoslav Literature and General Literature and graduated from the Faculty of Philology in 1974. She is currently a professor teaching the Educational Methodology of Literature and Serbian Language Teaching in the Department of Serbian Literature and Yugoslav literature. She is a member of the International Committee of Slavists (vice-president), the National Educational Council of the Republic of Serbia and the sub-dean for education of the Faculty of Philology.

Review of the collection Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević?
Written by:Prof. dr. Mirjana Marinković

The collection Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević? contains papers submitted to the Round Table Discussion on Jelena Dimitrijević held on April 9th 2016 at the Faculty of Philology as a part of the project Кnjiženstvo – Theory and History of Women’s Writing in Serbian until 1915. It is the second scholarly meeting dedicated to this author whose work is analyzed more and more intensively and whose recently reprinted works found good reception with readers in the past few years. The previous international gathering was held in Niš in 2004 and the communication was published two years later in the collection Jelena Dimitrijević. Life and Work. The collection Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević? encompasses many thematically different works inspired by the personality and literature of this author, the width of her interests and her humanitarian work. The authors are eminent researchers from both Serbia and beyond. Each of the papers discovers a new dimension of the life and creation of Jelena Dimitrijević, whose canonization they explicitly and implicitly fight for. Each one individually is thorough, meticulous, with clearly presented results, goading the reader on to further analyze her literary opus. The works, by their character and research focus belong to the area of literature teaching, historiography, literary history, comparative sciences and anthropology.

Although they are thematically different, all papers are almost completely the same with regards to scientific and skill value, and complete each other by drawing a literary and human portrait of Jelena Dimitrijević who as a unique person in that age and after so many years finds readers and not just in Serbia. She loved both the East and the West, was a Serbian beneficiary, a world traveler, a polyglot, a true intellectual who not only deserves to be read today but also to be written about(as this Collection affirms). The authors Svetlana Slapšak, Magdalena Koh, Žarka Svirčev, Biljana Dojčinović, Jelena Milinković, Slobodanka Peković, Vladimir Bosković, Vladimir Djurić, Jasmina Milanović, Nataša Marković, Jelena Radovanović, Jovana M. Reba and Slavica Garonja Radovanac show that the works of Jelena Dimitrijević are an integral part of reading in the context of Serbian and world literature and that they should be added to the high school and university curricula in order to affirm creative thinking and analysis as well as  that they are thankful material for a whole slew of humanist disciplines. It is difficult to choose a stand-out from the papers because each author notices a different aspect of Jelena’s prose, because in each one there is some separate piece of Jelena’s literary value, talent, humanity and originality.

The Collection Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević? represents a rarely successful mutually created venture, where many researchers works make up a part of a whole. Considering everything written above, the collection Do You Read Jelena Dimitrijević? is something I deem deserving every recommendation to be published by the Faculty of Philology of the University in Belgrade.

Prof. dr. Mirjana Marinković was born on June 6th 1965 in Pozega. She finished elementary and high school in Belgrade. She enrolled in Oriental Philology Studies (Arabic and Turkish language and literature) in the Faculty of Philology in 1984. She graduated after only 3 and a half years. She accepted the role of an assistant for Arabic and Turkish language and literature in the Department of Orientalism on September 1st 2000. She finished her postgraduate studies in the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade in the Department of National History. She defended her Master’s Thesis The Turkish Office of Prince Miloš Obrenović (1815-1839) on January 23rd 1996. She spent time living in Turkey during several of her study and research trips. She defended her doctoral dissertation Turkish Literature in the Serbian Language Region 1965-2000 in the Faculty of Philology on July 20th 2002. She received the title of assistant professor for Turkish language and literature on September 3rd 2013, and the title of associate professor for Turkish language and literature on September 3rd 2013. Mirjana Marinković had the role of a mentor to several students on their Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. She is also a member of several Commissions for the approval, defense and assessment of Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. She is also a member of several scholarly summits and conferences in Serbia and abroad. In addition to her pedagogical and scholarly work, she also works in translation (both literary and non-literary). She is fluent in Turkish, Arabic, English, and also speaks French, Russian and Italian. She is married and a mother of two.

Translator Aleksandra Stojković, born August 23rd 1995, lives and attends University of Belgrade. She is currently in her final year of studies in the Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade, department of English. She works as a freelance translator and voice actress. She loves stories in all their forms, whether they be comic books, video games, movies or television shows.

Translation edited by: Dejan Mujanović.




This article was published in March of 2019, within the Fear topic.

Read the other texts published in the Book Review section.

This article was originally published in Serbian and you can read it here. Translated into English by Aleksandra Stojković.

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