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Title: Blacker in Black: The Romanian Surrealist Group and Postwar Surrealism
Authors: Hansen, Catherine
Advisors: Rentzou, Effie
Bellos, David
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Infra Noir
Romanian avant-garde
Subjects: Comparative literature
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation concerns the Romanian surrealist group Infra Noir, whose five members were Gherasim Luca, Gellu Naum, Dolfi Trost, Paul Paun, and Virgil Teodorescu. Active between 1940 and 1951, Infra Noir chose a perilous moment and setting to found a surrealist group. Surrealist ideas were unwelcome, to begin with, in a prewar Romania entranced by right-wing politics and philosophies, as well as in a postwar Romania remade in the image of Communism. Working within the dynamic of the Surrealist movement's troubled relationship to Marxism and political activism, and across national and linguistic borders, the Infra Noir group thought a great deal about ideology, myth, materiality, and revolution, as well as modes of collective action and daily comportment. Beginning with the magazines and ephemera of a Bucharest interwar avant-garde scene menaced by the rise of fascism, I follow the members of Infra Noir through the war, the postwar triumph of Stalinist rule in Romania and of Stalinist influence in France, the repercussions of these events among AndrĂ© Breton's French Surrealists, and the various forms of exile that followed for Luca, Naum, and the others. The dissertation examines Infra Noir's critical and aesthetic vocabulary and key concepts in order to arrive at an overarching argument. I show firstly that for Infra Noir, the main problem - which they call the "Obstacle" - is that selves and their societies tend to act as facing mirrors that endlessly reflect each other and hold each other in place, preventing truly revolutionary thoughts and actions from taking flight. There is no getting "above" or "outside" this situation, and any attempt to do so strengthens its grasp. I show, secondly, that the group's solution to this problem is a strategy of dialectical negation which they call "negation of negation." This strategy is manifest, for example, in Infra Noir's theories of matter, object-relations and object-making, as well as in the idiosyncratically political meaning the group gives to the word "somnambulism," drawing on early psychiatric, occult, and surrealist discourses. Chapters One and Two are primarily literary-historical accounts of Infra Noir, focusing on Romania and France respectively; Chapters Three and Four are primarily critical-theoretical accounts of Infra Noir's work on objects and materiality, and on somnambulism.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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