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The multilayered identity of Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco – the archives of an identity issue

Bar, Alexandru (2018) The multilayered identity of Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco – the archives of an identity issue. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This research focuses on the question of Jewish identity in Romania around the turn of the twentieth century, in the cases of Romanian-born Jews, Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco. It argues that it was neither Tzara’s and Janco’s Jewish heritage, nor their connection to Jewish culture, that defined their artistic personalities, but a web of interrelated social, political and personal components, all part of their multilayered identity, of which their Jewishness was only one. In Romania, Jews have been variously stereotyped which led to a specific Jewish experience; simultaneously, and paradoxically, Eastern European Jews symbolized backwardness in the eyes of Western Jews. Taking these formulations as a starting point, the concern of this research is with the phenomenon of self-definition, and particularly with Tzara’s and Janco’s self-definition over against Romanian reality and its clichéd views on national identity and citizenship. By examining how the instability of national and ethnic identities in this part of Europe was manifested in their ‘Jewish experiences’, this research shows how the lack of national citizenship impacted their mindset at least the same way that their own Jewishness did, for it only accentuated their marginalisation. By drawing on archival sources and sociological knowledge, this research makes novel use of the Deleuzoguattarian concept of becoming to discuss how Tzara and Janco position themselves in relation to their national identity, arguing for a complex relationship between origin and artistic production that goes beyond simple identity. In short, the discussion is built around the argument that becoming offers a new platform to explore the linkage between Tzara’s and Janco’s inherited Jewishness, their lack of citizenship and the nation-state amidst which they were living. In conclusion, this research seeks to clear the way for a renewed consideration of the symbolic substance of Tzara’s and Janco’s Jewish experience and the role it played in defining their national identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Dada, Romanian-Jews, national identity, citizenship, Deleuze, becoming, self-definition.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Alexandru Bar
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2018 12:01
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2018 12:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22064

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