Magdalena Baran-Szołtys

Scholar of Literature and Cultural studies

Main focus: Inequality & Transformations

Twitter handle: @magdalena_baran


Languages: German, English, Polish

City: Vienna

Country: Austria

Topics: ukraine, transformation

Services: Talk, Moderation, Interview

  Willing to travel for an event.

  Willing to talk for nonprofit.


I am a scholar of literature and cultural studies working as a postdoctoral researcher (Hertha-Firnberg-Fellow, FWF) within the Research Center for the History of Transformations (RECET) and the Department of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna as well as a co-executor at the National Science Centre Poland research project "(Multi)national Eastern Galicia in the Interwar Polish Discourse (and its Selected Counter-Discourses)" at the University of Warsaw (2019–2021). I am further research associate at the Research Platforms "Mobile Cultures and Societies" and "Transformations and Eastern Europe" (University of Vienna).

The aim of my postdoctoral project "Stories Of/In Transformation. Literary Narratives of Transformation and Inequality in Post-Socialist Poland" is to tell the complex history of post-socialist transformation based on the study of literary narratives about transformation and inequality. I use literary narratives to tell the untold history of how literature reflects and models judgments of economic, political, social, and cultural changes in post-socialism. This project overviews the existing economic and political inequality studies to break new ground by providing a study on inequality that analyzes literary texts, including their reception in the context of political and economic transformation. The work focuses on how literary narratives on inequality have continuously been changing and evolving since 1989, simultaneously to the socio-cultural, economic, and political transformations in the post-socialist countries of East-Central Europe.
The project advocates for the significance of literature in the contemporary world by arguing for the relevance of literary narratives as a valuable medium in understanding and shaping the world in its economic, political, and social dimension. The key value is the investigation of literature to uncover the processes in the formation of (new) social structures in post-socialist transformation. Literature is seen as a mirror of social change: it highlights specific themes and ways of their representation.

My doctoral dissertation was a comparative study about travels to (post-)Galicia in German and Polish literature after 1989 (Doctoral Program: Austrian Galicia and its Multicultural Heritage, University of Vienna). As I suggest, Galicia might be seen as an extensive archive, where certain topics, images, myths, material relics and cultural practices are stored. For the travels and the texts certain things are selected by the authors from the archive, brought up to the surface and updated. They determine the routes chosen by the travellers, the narration and the pictures produced of Galicia. In accordance with the function of Galicia the works can be divided into three groups: (1) Historical-Literary Archive, (2) Family Archive and (3) Idiosyncratic Archive.

Having obtained an M.A. in German Studies (2011) and an M.A. in Slavic Studies (2012), both from the University of Vienna, I am committed to comparative approaches to Polish and German literature and culture studies, as well as interested in the issues of transnationalism, inequality, travel literature, contemporary theatre, and memory studies (nostalgia, archives, mnemonics), focusing especially on Central and Eastern Europe.
Further I have studied German as Foreign Language and was tutor in German Language and Literature at the University of Sydney (2010). I was visiting scholar at the Institute of Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University and at the University of Wrocław, as well as at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.
I received the Graduation Fellowship of the University of Vienna in 2018 and was a Literar-Mechana research fellow 2018/19.