The project Rural Modernism. Romanian Literature as East-Central European Literature (RuMo) aims at critically reassessing the most consistent and influential approaches of Romanian modernism, as well as that of Romanian rural literature, by drawing a connection to corresponding debates unfolding in other East-Central European cultural milieus. The project’s main objective thus consists in a revamping of the scientific approaches and methodology formerly used in similar projects, an improvement consisting in the radical leap from perceiving Romanian culture as constantly striving to produce a mirror image of Western models to defining it as one among several East-Central European cultures, following a unique pattern of modernization, highly indebted to regional routes of mutual influence, exchanges, socio-economic and ideological-political frictions. Building upon contemporary theories defining modernity as “combined and uneven development”, the project testifies to the crucial role held by rural literature in the formation of East-Central European modernism (the region being preponderantly agrarian during the entire 20th century). The project will invoke a series of comparative studies engaging rural literary phenomena, formulas and (sub)genres, as well as several authors representative for East-Central European cultural spaces, in order to illustrate how subject matters, narrative strategies and literary techniques widely accepted as “modernist”, when employed in rural poetry and prose, succeed in challenging canonical Western narratives regarding modern society. In conclusion, the project strives to dissociate rurality both from its idealized embodiments (that tend to ignite heated nationalist mysticism), as well from its belittling renditions (through which inferiority complexes concerning cultural backwardness are voiced), instead pleading for an understanding of Romanian and East-Central European rural literature as a privileged space, able to reflect and likewise deflect the challenges and dilemmas of the modern world.

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