I was a Fulbright scholar at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago) for the 2017-2018 academic year, and undoubtedly, it was one of the best periods of my career. I was awarded the Fulbright Slavic Award, a scholarship for researchers specializing in the culture and history of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. Because I specialize in both American and Slavic studies, this program was perfect for me. At the University of Illinois in Chicago (the Department of Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies – formerly the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures), I worked on a project titled Rebels With(out) a Cause. Post-Soviet Masculinities vs. Anglo-American Popular Culture under the supervision of prof. Michał Paweł Markowski and prof. Karen Underhill. Within the framework of this project, I taught two courses – Popcultural Phenomena in European Cinema (undergraduate) and The Many Faces of Men: Contemporary Discourses on Masculinities in Slavic Literature (graduate). To practice my other skills, I regularly participated in classes conducted by outstanding specialists in literature and culture of the United States and the British Isles. Cooperation with American students, for whom my classes were often the first direct contact with Central and Eastern Europe, allowed me to promote the culture of our region, and get to know different, often surprising points of view. The experience gathered throughout my film class helped me prepare for the “Representations of Children and Childhood in Film,” a course I am conducting for the students of The International Master in Children’s Literature, Media and Culture (CLMC) (Glasgow-Barcelona-Aarhus-Tilburg-Wrocław).
In addition to improving my teaching skills, the project involved academic work, which resulted in the publication of articles and reviews. I presented my research results at several conferences, such as AATSEEL in Washington D.C. and ACLA in Los Angeles. I also gave three guest lectures – High, Pop, or Trash? Pop-culture, Consumerism, and Globalization in Polish Culture (Pomona College, Claremont, CA), From Soap to Vogue. Contemporary Polish Popular Culture (Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington IL), and Polish and Ukrainian Picture Books (Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, National Louis University, Chicago). While traveling, I explored the USA, visiting landmarks such as the White House, The Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Santa Monica Pier.
The fellowship strengthened my international contact network, leading scholars in American Studies and Slavic Studies gave me advice on publishing research results and online dissemination. Working on the project, I cooperated with scholars from various departments of the UIC, such as prof. Markowski and prof. Underhill, prof. Julia Vaingurt, prof. Imke Meyer, and prof. Alfred Thomas, as well as researchers from other institutions, such as prof. Larissa Rudova (Pomona College), prof. Marina Balina (Illinois Wesleyan University), and prof. Vitaly Chernetsky (Kansas University). Courtesy of the American Fulbright side, I was able to attend the Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in Kansas City, a several-day seminar for current U.S. scholarship holders, where we were introduced to the role of innovation and diversity in the development of research units, and the possibilities of using the potential of human capital. We were taken to the region’s largest food bank, to learn about ways to help those most in need. Together we prepared packages for the local community. The meeting in Kansas City, a beautiful city on the border of two states – Kansas and Missouri – enabled me to exchange experiences with other Fulbright scholars from all over the world and from different disciplines.
Although it was freezing during my stay in Chicago, the Windy City has a lot to offer, even in winter. I visited countless art galleries and museums (such as the unique Art Institute of Chicago). As a fan of music, I also took part in numerous concerts, both classical music (including a recital by Paweł Chęciński, organized by the Consulate General of Poland in Chicago as part of the Chopin IN the City Festival) and popular music (including Lana Del Rey, George Ezra, Kacey Musgraves, and Taylor Swift). Working at the UIC provided me with opportunities to participate in literary and film meetings organized by the staff and students of the School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics. I had an inspiring experience as a juror at the Student Research Forum – a fair where nearly 300 students presented their research results. Fulbright Slavic Award gave me an extraordinary opportunity to expand my knowledge of the contemporary United States of America and share my experience with my American students and colleagues.
Dr Mateusz Świetlicki był stypendystą Fulbright Slavic Award w roku akademickim 2017-18.