A global experience in a fragmentary novel, examining Flights

In the 2018 fall semester, four students, Alexander Clegg, Gillian Demeter, Michael Surowiak and Abigail Lang, took a Polish literature course (POL/SLA 3800) taught by Dr. Alina Klin.

The class read Olga Tokarczuk's fragmentary novel, Bieguni (English translation Flights), last year's winner of the Man Booker International Prize. The students decided to share their understanding of this complex and fascinating novel and present a panel entitled "A Global Experience in a Fragmentary Novel, Examining Flights" at the Rushton Undergraduate Conference in Language, Literature, and Culture. The following sums up their experiences.


The Rushton Undergraduate Conference was a new experience for all of us. Organizing such a project proved to be a challenge; however, communication was the key to the success of our undertaking.

In my presentation entitled "Bieguni: The Titles Conundrum," I concentrated on how the English and Polish titles inform the understanding of Tokarczuk's work. The Polish title clearly refers to a religious movement that had severed from the Russian Orthodox Church, while the English title lacks religious connotation. Instead, it evokes the notion of modern travel and escaping.


This was the first time that I participated in a conference during my time at WSU. I enjoyed working on my portion of the group's presentation as it allowed me to share what I learned from reading "Flights" by Olga Tokarczuk. "Flights," otherwise known as "Bieguni" in Polish, is an interesting piece of literature that I would highly recommend.


In my presentation, "Flying away with Olga Tokarczuk," I summarized Flights and discussed the author's very unique metaphors and imagery. I really enjoyed reading Flights and discussing it both in class and at the conference. Presenting at the Rushton Conference was a new experience for me, and it was very valuable, even though I faced challenges along the way.


The 2019 Rushton Conference was a great experience and one that was vastly different from anything that I have done before as a student. As a panelist, I created a visual mapping project that plotted geographical places that were significant to the novel. However, due to previous arrangements, I had an interesting challenge of presenting my project while I was traveling in France. Therefore, I had to record the introduction to my presentation and then coordinate with my colleagues while thousands of miles away.

My project maps the locations in the novel.

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