For three summer days in August 2013 the International American Studies Association managed to attract scholars of all continents to travel to a Polish harbor town—Szczecin to contribute to the discussions on America(s) separated from other continents by two oceans. The title 'Oceans Apart' turned out to be an intellectual provocation which proved that the oceanic separateness was illusory as the discussions oscillated around the topics which were recognized and resonant in distant parts of the world. As the organizers intended, the speakers searched for new words to give meanings to old texts. The works of authors such as Herman Melville, Pearl Buck, Jack London, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle inspired scholars to ask questions pertaining to the complexity of human nature and served as referential points in debates on other more modern texts. The old problems of exclusion, prejudice or stereotyping found new exemplification both in literature and in geopolitical observations. The oceanic metaphors and associations triggered a wide range of topics and multiple ways of interpreting them, thus proving that the oceans connect rather than divide people.

The present issue addresses topics related to the notion of the ocean in two ways: those which concern issues outside of the world of literature and those which refer to specific literary texts.

The first paper selected for this issue has been written by Regina Schober and is entitled ‘The World Wide Sea—Oceanic Metaphors, Concepts of Knowledge, and Transnational America in the Information Age’. Professor Schober received for this article the 2013 Emory Elliot Award, the award given to an outstanding paper submitted for an IASA conference. The second text, ‘History as an ocean’ written by Alicja Bemben, investigates the question of what history is and it discusses the relation between history and literature. It is followed by Jolanta Szymkowska’s text ‘From the American Wild West to Bojszowy: Józef Kłyk’s Westerns as Social Rituals’ in which the author examines the extent to which the American film genre influenced the western production of Silesian amateur director, and discusses the ritual purposes of Józef Kłyk’s productions.

The three articles are followed by papers in which the ocean metaphor is directly related to literary texts. Thus Justyna Fruzińska discusses the process of maturation of young men in relation to three fictional characters: Jack London’s Humphrey Van Weyden in The Sea Wolf, Herman Melville’s Captain Amasa Delano from ‘Benito Cereno’ and eponymous Billy Budd, and their experiences on the sea. Pilar Martínez Benedí, in ‘Revolving the Vortex; or, Working through Trauma at Sea’ also addresses Hermann Melville’s work, Moby Dick, by attempting to examine relationship between a sea-vortex and the experience of working through trauma. Claudia Ioana Doroholschi’s text is a comparative study of Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat and S.T. Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Jacek Mydla’s ‘United by the Ocean? The Romantic Conan Doyle and the Transatlantic Sherlock Holmes’ focuses on how the metaphor of the ocean/water functions in Doyle’s story “The Five Orange Pips.” Valeria Gennero’s text ‘Pearl S. Buck and the Forgotten Holocaust of the Two-Ocean War’ discusses the notions of ‘national identity’ and ‘gendered violence’ in the context of Buck’s novel Dragon Seed. In the last article Hitomi Nabae examines the representation of Creole culture in Lafcadio Hearn’s writings.

Anna Łakowicz-Dopiera and Agnieszka Woźniakowska

Published : 2014-05-15

WoźniakowskaA., & Łakowicz-DopieraA. (2014). Introduction. Review of International American Studies, 7(1). Retrieved from

Agnieszka Woźniakowska
Department of American and Canadian Studies Institute of English Cultures and Literatures Faculty of Philology University of Silesia in Katowice Katowice, Poland  Poland

Agnieszka Woźniakowska, Assistant Professor of American Literature at the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland, holds a Ph.D. in Literary Studies. Her research interests include: religious drama in the USA, history of American drama, and biblical motifs in literature, in which areas she has published a number of articles. She is also a co-editor of a number of collective monographs and the editor of the series Grand Themes of American Literature, published by the University of Silesia Press.

Anna Łakowicz-Dopiera 
Department of English Faculty of Philology University of Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland  Poland
Anna Łakowicz-Dopiera, Ph.D. in English, is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of English at the University of Szczecin in Szczecin, Poland. Her research interests focus upon the reception of American literature in Poland and upon intercultural dialog, in particular in the context of transatlantic American studies. She is an author of several articles and papers in collective monographs and an active animator of events related to the studies of the Americas.

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