Aleksandra Majak

BA (Jagiellonian University/UCL), MPhil (Cambridge), MSc (St Andrews)

My academic interests lie at the intersection between English and Polish poetry and criticism of the twentieth and twentieth-first century, particularly with regard to self-reflexivity, the dynamics of poetical borrowings, the creative act, poetic revision, and translation studies. Following my undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature supervised by Prof. Magda Heydel at the Jagiellonian University, I read an MPhil in Comparative Literatures and Cultures at the University of Cambridge. My dissertation, written under the supervision of Dr Stanley Bill, explored post-modern re-configurations of T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ in the poetry and criticism of T. Rozewicz. More specifically, I examined how Rozewicz’s resistance to Eliot developed from direct borrowing to the sarcastic tone he acquired in his later works, depicting Eliot as a poet who ‘wrote lovely poems about cats and won a Nobel prize for it’. 


Funded by the CEELBAS AHRC Studentship, my DPhil project supervised by Prof. Jan Fellerer and Prof. Hannah Sullivan explores criticism and semi-autobiographical poetic sequences of the 1960s in the context of both Central-Eastern-European and British literature. I focus on dialogues and potential influence of Polish literature on the development of English poetry of the time, which, according to critic Al Alvarez, must have moved beyond the ‘gentility principle’. I am interested to see whether ‘foreign’ voices introduced to the English reader in 1965 through the first edition of ‘Modern Poetry in Translation’ did, in fact, bring new poetic sensitivity, challenging British poetry with its inevitable post-traumatic, generational drama. For now, I am looking at poets such as T. Hughes, S. Plath, A. Alvarez, Cz. Milosz, T. Rozewicz, and Z. Herbert, with the possibility of expanding the conceptual framework of this research toward a more theoretical path.


Over the last four years, I presented my research on international conferences across Europe and the United States most recent being Transatlantic Studies Conference, at Harvard (2017) and 29th Annual Conference of American Literature Association at San Francisco (2018). In 2017/18 I also studied Psychology (Conversion) at the University of St Andrews for one year, with a final project, supervised by Prof. Barbara Dritschel, on the need for de-stigmatization of young LGBTQ+ adults’ narratives. Beyond my research interests, I am the part of the governing body of the Collegium Invisibile Academic Society, acting as an academic tutor in English literature for the National Fund for Talented Children, and I am involved in the non-profit organisation Project Access. Most currently with Collegium Invisibile, I organised an academic summer school for the outstanding high-school students in Poland, during which I led a class on modern and contemporary English poetry with elements of critical theory. Privately, I am a semi-professional photographer taking photos for Graduate Study at Oxford Instagram, among others, and I am involved in the Oxford Cycling Club as a road cyclist.   

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