The author asks about the applicability of postcolonial criticism to the study of the culture of Central and Eastern Europe, especially Galicia. She presents the voices of Polish and Ukrainian proponents of this method, as well as those who are sceptical about the possibility of adapting it to the analysis of Central European culture. She indicates the factors which complicate transferring the theory of postcolonial studies to the Habsburg monarchy and the peoples living there, and defines the conditions that should be taken into account for the use of postcolonial theory to be persuasive. She presents the benefits of postcolonial criticism as applied to the analysis of literature created in Galicia, noting the hegemonic historiography contained in the literature and the narrative forms establishing the hierarchy of cultures, and protecting the value and superiority of one’s own culture – a phenomenon that has not been investigated.
Whereas Wincenty Pol’s topographical verse has usually been viewed as an expression of a ‘sentimental geography’, this article proposes a new reading of a well-known poem A Song about Our Land by Wincenty Pol in terms of ‘imagined geography’, a key term of an approach inspired by geopoetics and postcolonial studies. ‘Imagined geography’ refers to a poetic map, i.e. travelogue laced with motifs from the repository of national heritage. Its images, reshaped by the writer’s imagination, form an ideologically charged whole in which an emotive sense of place or scenery (‘touching the heart’) uncovers a complex cultural stratigraphy of the ‘imagined geography’. In the light of this approach, based on the insights of geopoetics, Wincenty Pol’s poem can be treated as textual representation of a map of the real and the symbolic territory of Poland.