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“(Re)Shaping Identities in Romanian Mid 19th-Century Culture”

by Carmen Beatrice Dutu

Amor Vincit (R)om(a)nia.
In 'Culture and Imperialism' Eduard Said illustrated the fact that there is no culture to be regarded only within ‘national limits’. Mid 19-century Romanian culture is an exemplary proof that this post-colonial interpretation over literature needs to be fully adopted by contemporary romanian literary scholars, as the novel phenomenon in Romania had been ‘foreign’ par excellence from the very start, being imported (and eventually translated and adapted) from French culture. Within this context, the exponential demand of women readers for sentimental/popular romance triggered an array of reactions in the public sphere of the age, most of them negative, generated by woman’s trespassing of traditional barriers within the traditionally private realm. Thus, when applying a contrapuntal reading to these novels, we may witness a shift in the ways of reading and thinking gender identity in Romanian culture.

In view of the above my final aim is to illustrate how this shift eventually leads to a new way of living within the boundaries of the imported modernity, when women forced into being – via their reading practices – the revolution of modernity in our cultural space; thus they repositioned themselves within the center of social and cultural phenomena, disseminating new values, new ways of thinking. On a broader scale, my paper aims to offer an imagological analysis on how the impressive body of women readers of mid 19-century novels play a crucial role in shaping a new Romanian (trans)national identity.

AsK, September 2012

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