The Center for Imagination Studies
At the initiative of Assoc. Prof. Corin Braga, Ph. D., a group of academics from the Faculty of Letters (Prof. Vasile Voia, Prof. Mircea Muthu, Assoc. Prof. Stefan Borbely) and from other faculties (Prof. Mircea Baciu - Faculty of Arts, Assoc. Prof. Ovidiu Pecican - Faculty of European Studies, Lect. Ruxandra Cesereanu - Faculty of Political Studies and Journalism) have rallied their efforts in order to set up a Center for Imagination Studies, called PHANTASMA.
The Center was inaugurated on April 16, 2002, the formal ceremony being attended by Prof. Andrei Marga, Rector of "Babes-Bolyai" University, Prof. Vasile Cristea, Vice-Rector, and by Prof. Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, Vice-Rector of Jean Moulin University - Lyon 3 and director of Gaston Bachelard Institute for Imagination and Rationality Research from Dijon, France.
The Center is located on the premises of the Faculty of Letters.
Its functioning was approved by the Council of the Faculty of Letters on April 9, 2002, and by the Senate of "Babes-Bolyai" University on May 20, 2002.
It has been included in the CRI-GRECO network (Centres de Recherches sur l'Imaginaire), which encompasses over 30 research centers throughout the world.
The modern science of the imaginary was founded at the middle of the 20th century, through the works of Gaston Bachelard, Charles Mauron, Gilbert Durand and other prominent philosophers. Since then, its relevance and importance has constantly increased, especially over the past few decades. The contemporary postmodern society is evolving into a "global village", in which people from all over the world are provided, via media channels, with information on potentially every single event that takes place on the Earth. Nevertheless, unlike in the traditional village, where the transmission of this information was direct, non-mediated, interpersonal, in the global village the information is indirect, mediated, transformed. The global advertising system, the worldwide movie distribution network, the newspapers and magazines, cable and satellite television, the Internet, all these media no longer supply "perceptive" images of the remote people and events, but only "imaginary" images, processed in offices and studios. These images become liable to carry additional, subliminal messages, having been exposed to ideological or commercial manipulation. Political campaigns and electronic wars, fashions and cultural popularity awards, are only some trivial samples of the way in which received images influence our vision of reality.
Phantasma. The Center for Imagination Studies in Cluj is a laboratory for studying the social and cultural imaginary. Its creation starts from the premise that the majority of academic disciplines deals only with our rationalistic and positive ego, but completely ignore our unconscious personality. In order to explore the individual and collective subconscious life, the Center intends to deploy several up-to-date methodologies and approaches (active and participative research, focus groups etc.). Its activity will be very innovative, at least in the Romanian and Eastern European academic tradition, and very profitable for Transylvania and this part of South-Central Europe.
In the postmodern age, research conducted into the imaginary plays a crucial role as regards:
1. The deconstruction of the social-political "mythologies"
The analysis of the imaginary is a powerful deconstruction device of the ideological, political and social stereotypes and clichés. Aware of the development of today's world into a "global village", and starting from the assumption that media images are not perceptive, direct, but "imaginative", processed, transformed, we intend to analyze images as they are engendered by the written press, by the advertising and movie industries, by cable and satellite television, the internet, etc. Research into the imaginary is essential to understanding the way images affect social groups and collective mentalities, especially in an age when the unprecedented expansion of the visual culture gives vent to a series of subliminal - ideological and political - manipulations of the public.
2. The reconstruction of the postmodern subject.
The practice of the fantasy enables postmodern man to cope with the increasing celerity (Wlad Godzich) of contemporary life. Dangerously exposed to politropy and polychrony, i.d. to the schizophrenic necessity of being aware or even being present to diverse actions that occur in different places simultaneously, postmodern man has to find a way to develop a new and very demanding identity. But traditional logos and rationality offers only the model of an integrated homogenous subject. The reconstruction of a polymorphous and disintegrate subject should use the psychological techniques of the imaginary in order to unite and to keep together the divergent tendencies postmodern man has to deal with.
Imagination studies have developed an entire range of extremely efficient analytical methods and instruments (psychocriticism, myth criticism, archetypology, imagology), which contribute to constructing a hermeneutics of the cultural imaginary from an intrinsic perspective. This approach focuses on the genuine substance of images, symbols, and myths, conceived as well-defined psychic functions. Our long-term project is to combine these methods with active and focus-group research, in order to identify the noumina that generate constellations of artistic images.
Through its components and programs presented below, the Center aims at:
1. Conducting research on topics pertaining to the cultural-artistic, social and media imaginary (to be undertaken by academics, Ph. D. and M.A. students, undergraduates)
2. Publishing the results of this research (either in books or in the printed and electronic journals edited by the Center)
3. Including the research areas into the academic curriculum (courses and seminars at the graduate level) as well as in the scientific workshops supervised by the Center
Board of directors
Assoc. Prof. Corin Braga, Ph. D.
Prof. Mircea Muthu, Ph. D. - Supervisor of the interdisciplinary program of Balkan Studies
Prof. Vasile Voia, Ph. D. - Supervisor of the interdisciplinary Masters Degree program: "History of Ideas - History of Images"
Assoc. Prof. Stefan Borbély, Ph. D. - Co-director (together with Corin Braga) of the Echinox Journal; Supervisor of the "Eranos" research group; Coordinator of the Socio-Political Imagination Studies program: "The Image of the U.S.A. in the Romanian Cold War Period Mass-Media"
Assoc. Prof. Ruxandra Cesereanu, Ph. D. - Supervisor of the creative writing workshop; Coordinator of the Socio-Political Imagination Studies program: "The Image of the USA in the Romanian Post-Communism"
Assoc. Prof. Ovidiu Pecican, Ph. D. - Supervisor of the "History of the Imaginary" Program
Prof. Mircea Baciu - Curator of the electronic gallery
Assist. Prof. Cristina Varga - Website design
Assoc. Prof. Diana Adamek, Ph. D.
Assoc. Prof. Sanda Cordos, Ph. D.
Assist. Prof. Carmen Borbely
Assist. Prof. Horea Poenar
Assist. Prof. Mihaela Ursa
Assist. Prof. Ovidiu Mircean
Teaching staff for the"History of Ideas - History of Ideas" Masters Degree Program
Prof. Alin Ailincai
Prof. Aurel Codoban, Ph. D.
Prof. Doina Modola
Prof. Mircea Muthu, Ph. D.
Prof. Vasile Voia, Ph. D.
Assoc. Prof. Diana Adamek
Assoc. Prof. Stefan Borbély, Ph. D.
Assoc. Prof. Corin Braga, Ph. D.
Assoc. Prof. Sanda Cordos
Assoc. Prof. Pavel Puscas , Ph. D.
Alumni of the "History of Ideas - History of Ideas" Masters Degree Program
Mara Stanca Rafan
Translators for the "Mundus Imaginalis" Book Series
Liliana and Doru Burlacu
Assoc. Prof. Rodica Baconsky, Ph. D.; Assoc. Prof. Gheorghe Lascu, Ph. D. - The Department of Applied Linguistics
Prof. Rodica Pop, Ph. D. - The Center of Belgian Studies
Assoc. Prof. Ioana Bot, Ph. D. - The Romanian Literature Masters Degree Program
Prof. Aurel Codoban, Ph. D - The Institute of East-European and Oriental Religions
Assoc. Prof. Marius Jucan, Ph. D. - The Faculty of European Studies
Components of the Center
I. An interdisciplinary Masters Degree in Comparative Literature
"History of Images - History of Ideas"
Program Director: Prof. Vasile Voia, Ph. D.
The one-year "History of Images - History of Ideas" Masters Degree, currently run by the Comparative Literature Department of the Faculty Letters, is a pioneering interdisciplinary program at "Babes-Bolyai" University, Cluj-Napoca. It enrolls academics from five different institutions (the Faculties of Letters, Philosophy, and Orthodox Theology, the Academy of Visual Arts and the Music Academy) and it is designed to provide graduate students with a comprehensive view of the imaginary and its relation to reason. The imaginative function is approached from several concurrent perspectives - philosophical, religious, literary, musical and artistic, while the courses are divided into two main categories: Image Theory and Image Practice.
The Masters Degree Program started in the 2001-2002 academic year, the first 13 alumni graduating in June 2002.
It continues in 2002-2003 with 10 students.
The syllabus for the academic year 2002/2003 comprises the following courses:
1. "Methodologies in Contemporary Comparativism: Themes, Imagology, European Studies"
Prof. Vasile Voia, Ph.D. (Faculty of Letters, Department of Comparative Literature)
2. "Body, Gender and Corporal Language"
Prof. Aurel Codoban, Ph.D. (Faculty of Philosophy).
3. "Philosophical Themes - Scientific Paradigms - Aesthetic Epistemologies"
Assoc. Prof. Pavel Puscas, Ph.D. ("Gheorghe Dima" Music Academy, Art Theory, Department of Composition, Musicology, Pedagogy)
4. "European Eschatology from Antiquity to the Renaissance"
Assoc. Prof. Corin Braga, Ph.D. (Faculty of Letters, Department of Comparative Literature)
5. '"Poetics of the Imagination'"
Assoc. Prof. Sanda Cordos, Ph.D. (Faculty of Letters, Department of Romanian Literature and Literary Theory)
6. "Visual Arts and Literature"
Prof. Mircea Muthu, Ph.D., (Faculty of Letters, Department of Romanian Literature and Literary Theory)
7. "Elements of Visual Semiotics and Syntax"
Prof. Alin Ailincai (Faculty of Visual Arts, Department of Ceramics, Glass, Metal and Textile Arts)
8. "Image Theory in Byzantine Theology"
Assoc. Prof. Ioan Ica Jr., Ph.D., (Faculty of Orthodox Theology, Department of the History and Philosophy of Religions)
9. "Samples of Hostile Imagination: Imaging the Other in the Dichotomic Cold War Culture"
Assoc. Prof. Stefan Borbély, Ph.D. (Faculty of Letters, Department of Comparative Literature)
10. "Imaginary of the 20th century, between abstraction and intropathy"
Assoc. Prof. Diana Adamek (Faculty of Letters, Department of Comparative Literature)
II. A Book Collection entitled
Coordinator: Corin Braga
This book collection is the result of a fruitful cooperation between the Center for Imagination Studies and Dacia Publishing House.
The phrase "mundus imaginalis" was coined by Henry Corbin to designate what may be called the iconosphere, or the universe of images. In this collection we intend to publish original or translated volumes that examine those constellations of images and symbols which operate as the fountain well of human culture. In their turn, these galaxies of symbols become organized into coherent outlooks on the universe, into images of the world, engendered as they are by various religious, philosophical or artistic systems. Consequently, the book collection comprises several series, focusing on the modus operandi of the imaginary:
1. Anthropology of the Imaginary
2. General Archetypology
3. Image Theory
4. History of the Imaginary
and exploring images of the world as they appear in:
6. Shamanic Visions
7. Greek Religion and Mystery Cults
8. Gnosis and Hermeticism
9. Occult Sciences in the Renaissance and the Modern Age
The "Mundus Imaginalis" Book Collection has issued 5 volumes so far:
- Charles Mauron, From Obsessive Metaphors to Personal Myth. Transl. by Ioana Both. Critical apparatus, bibliography and notes for the Romanian edition by Ioana Both and Raluca Lupu. Cluj: Dacia Publishing House, 2001. 384 pp. ('Image Theory' series)
- Stefan Borbély, From Herakles to Eulenspiegel. Heroism. Cluj: Dacia Publishing House, 2001. 376 pp. ('General Archetypology' series)
- Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, Utopia or the Crisis of the Imaginary. Transl. by Tudor Ionescu. Cluj: Dacia Publishing House, 2001. 304 pp. ('General Archetypology 'series)
- Laurence Delaby, Tungusic Shamans. Transl. by Liliana and Doru Burlacu. Cluj: Dacia Publishing House, 2002. 224 pp. ('Shamanic Visions' series)
- Ovidiu Pecican, Fictional Realities and True Fictions ('History of the Imaginary' series)
The following books are scheduled for publication in 2002 and 2003:
- Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Symbolic Imagination. Transl. by Raluca Lupu-Onet ('Anthropology of the Imaginary' series)
- Pierre Brunel, The Invocation of the Dead and the Descent into the Underworld. Transl. by Svetlana Jureleac ('General Archetypology' series)
- Wayne Shumaker, The Occult Sciences in the Renaissance. Transl. by Ovidiu Mircean ('Occult Sciences in the Renaissance and the Modern Age' series)
- Jean Libis, The Myth of Androgyny. Transl. by Anca Muntean ('General Archetypology' series)
- The Occult Sources of Roman-ticism. Transl. by Stefana Pop and Ioan Curseu ('Occult Sciences in the Renaissance and the Modern Age' series)
- Françoise Bonardel, Philosophy through Fire. Transl. by Raluca Lupu-Onet ('Occult Sciences in the Renaissance and the Modern Age' series)
- Paul Foucart, The Eleusis Mysteries. Transl. by Maria Matel ('Greek Religion and Mystery Cults' series)
- Franz Cumont, Lux perpetua. Transl. by Svetlana Jureleac ('Greek Religion and Mystery Cults' series)
III. An academic review
"Caietele Echinox" - Echinox Journal
Directors: Stefan Borbély, Corin Braga
Echinox Journal represents an interface between the Center for Imagination Studies and the Echinox Cultural Foundation.
Echinox is a well known Romanian review, that has been published since 1968.
Starting with 2001, Echinox amplified its activity, being issued in three formats: the Echinox review; the Echinox Journal; and an electronic magazine -, to be accessed on the website of the Echinox Cultural Foundation, at the following address: www.lett.ubbcluj.ro/~echinox.
Echinox Journal is a bi-annual publication, issued in 250 to 300-page volumes, comprising studies in Romanian, English, French and German. The aim of the Journal editors is to cooperate with various institutes, academic centers and professional organizations, as well as to publish the results of certain research programs undertaken by the Center for Imagination Studies in joint partnership with these institutions.
Issues published so far:
- Issue 1 / 2001: "Postcolonialism and Postcomunism".
- Issue 2 / 2001: "Image Theory and Practice. 1. Cultural Imaginary"
- Issue 3 / 2002: " Image Theory and Practice. 2. Social Imaginary"
- Issue 4 / 2002: "Restrictions and Censorship"
Issues awaiting publication:
- "Symbolic Geographies"
- "German Studies and Comparativism"
- " Socialist Realism"
The volumes can be found also on the website of the Echinox Cultural Foundation:
IV. A research group
Founder and supervisor: Stefan Borbély
This research group was founded in the fall of 1991 at the Faculty of Letters in Cluj, under the aegis of the Department of Comparative Literature.
The name Eranos ("the philosophers' feast") is derived from the famous reunions organized by C. G. Jung in Switzerland. The research group aims to achieve an interdisciplinary scope, organizing monthly debates on themes pertaining to imagology, symbols, religions, the comparative study of mentalities, psychoanalysis, psychocriticism, political psychology, psychohistory, and philosophy. A mere glance at the general themes on focus suggests that we are advocating attracting students from a wide array of faculties, in order for our monthly meetings to be extremely successful. Renowned lecturers from Cluj and elsewhere, in the country and abroad, are regularly invited to these meetings.
Themes debated between 1991 and 1997 (a selective list):
- Myth and rite in a Freudian perspective
- Oedipus - towards a Jungian myth-analysis
- Jung and archetypology
- Jung: the symbolic architecture of the Bollingen house
- Lustration rites
- Sacrificial rites in the Old Testament
- Unicorns and other symbolic animals
- Postmodernism and philosophy
- The birth trauma in a psychohistorical grid
Themes debated since 2002:
- March 21, 2002 - What we like and what we dislike about literary criticism, as it is practiced at the Faculty of Letters
- April 4, 2002 - A debate on H.-R. Patapievici's "The Recent Man"
- April 15, 2002 - J.-J. Wunenburger's Conference "L'arbre aux images"
- April 25, 2002 - Oleg Garaz's Conference on "Musical Images"
Octomber 24, 2002 - Sorin Mitu, Ovidiu Pecican, "Contemporary Romanian Historiography. From National Mythology to Historic Truth"
- November 21, 2002 - Marta Petreu, "The Shadow of Nae Ionescu. The Generation of the 27s (Noica-Eliade-Cioran) between admiration and critical reconsideration"
- December 11, 2002 - Virgil Mihaiu, "Jazz - A Synthesis of the Arts at the Beginning of the 3rd Millenium"
V. A creative writing workshop
" Oneiric Literature"
Supervisor: Ruxandra Cesereanu
The Center for Imagination Studies aims at supporting not only academic, conceptualized research into the imaginary, but also artistic projects that investigate the world of phantasms. A small group of writers, who achieved literary recognition in the '90s and deploy techniques of penetrating the barriers of reality through hallucination, delirium, dream, nightmare, trance or ecstasy, are included under its umbrella. These writers, who are united by their common poetics and sensibility rather than by the mere label and group identity as (neo) oneiric artists, include:
- Corin Braga, with his tetralogy Sleepwalkers (two novels of which have been published: The Claustrophobic Man and Hydra) and with Oneiria. A Dream Journal (1985-1995).
- Ruxandra Cesereanu, with her poetry volumes: Garden of Delights, Live Zone, Schizoid Ocean, Venice with Violet Lashes; fiction: Journey through the Looking Glass, Purgatories, Tricephalos; and an anthology of Romanian oneiric poetry: Deliriums and Deliria.
- Mona Chirila, director, with the shows The Mantle by Gogol; with scenes from Bulgakov; The Bloody Wedding, adapted after Lorca; and Nights from One Thousand and One.
- Judith Meszáros, with the poetry volumes: The Angelciad and Yellow Submarine
- Ovidiu Pecican, with the novel: My Monkey and I
Neo-oneiric poetic arts and literature attempt to retrieve the de-realization strategies and to revisit the parallel worlds - whether they be metaphysical, psychological or aesthetic - used or discovered (invented) by the Romantics, the Surrealists, and the Oneirics of the '60s and '70s. Neo-oneiric literature redeploys these themes in the context of the phobias of the new postmodern age, reflecting the ongoing crisis of ontology, using the neo-shamanic techniques of exploring parallel realities and the computer-age methods of virtually redesigning reality.
Furthermore, the Center also organizes a creative writing workshop in oneiric literature, starting in the 2002-2003 academic year, under Ruxandra Cesereanu's supervision.
In the first semester have been held 10 workshop sessions.
VI. An electronic gallery
Curator: Mircea Baciu
The Center wishes to encourage and disseminate samples of visual and cinematic creation, where images are summoned to reveal the most unexpected manifestations and nuances of perception or fantasy. The fastest and most efficient way to achieve this is, prior to opening an exhibition hall, to display the paintings in an electronic gallery on the Center's website. The Center therefore cooperates with the "Ion Andreescu" Academy of Visual Arts, and in particular with Prof. Mircea Baciu, Dean of the Faculty of Graphic Arts, with his students and assistants.
The cybernetic exhibitions are commenced with the works of Bucharest-based artist, Laura Covaci, author of several presentations in the US, Japan, France, Belgium, Hungary and Romania.
VII. A Website
Web design: Cristina Varga
Dedicated to studying the activities of the imaginary, the Center could not have avoided the temptation of creating a mirror image for itself, a virtual icon through which it may construct its identity in cyberspace - the postmodern universe by excellence. Since, however, the roots of phantasms sublimated into electronic information units continue to derive their sap from the most obscure formations of the collective subconscious, we have selected as a logo an anonymous engraving from 1580-1590, "Le monde dans une tete de fou", satirizing the "Folly of Voyaging". This drawing was made at a time when the emergent modern mentality was beginning to discard the "magic thinking" of the Middle Ages, poking fun at the corpus of fantastic voyages inherited by way of tradition, as well as at the fad for exploring voyages that had been initiated in the Renaissance. "Stultorum infinitus est numerus", reads the inscription on the "beard" of the imaginary traveler. Besides, the earthly globe itself is inside the jester's cap - a no less fantastic geographical representation since the bottom of the global map is occupied by a gigantic, though fictive, Unknown Austral Continent.
The entire activity of the Center will be reflected in the pages of this website, which will bring into focus, in the parallel and simultaneous time of binary information, the activities of the Center's manifold programs and will stock its real-time history in the hyperspace (that is, to speak in less metaphysical terms, in the server's memory clusters). It will also make all the links and connections to the websites of the Center's partner institutions.
The components presented above are the administrative and logistical bases of the Center for Imagination Studies, amounting to a practical framework (investigation, research, teaching) and providing channels of self-expression for those who wish to use it as an institutional umbrella.
Against this background, four main research programs have been launched, conceived as group-study themes involving both academics and students, and envisaged to be finalized in print as studies, books and data bases, provided that adequate funding, grants and sponsorship is obtained.
I. The interdisciplinary program of Balkan Studies
Coordinator: Prof. Mircea Muthu, Ph. D.
- Promoting the adoption of Balkan Studies, including modern Balkan languages studies, at an institutional level
- Setting up a Balkan book fund
- Starting a Ph. D. program on Balkan Studies
- Editing an annual info bulletin
- Publishing "The History of the A-Romanians"
- Setting up a bibliographical data basis (South-East European literatures in Romania)
- A comparative study of the South-East European literatures; motifs and typologies; the concept of South-East European literature
- "The Image of the Other" in the Romanian and South-East European travelogue
- The permeability of cultural frontiers in the Balkan area: oral/written, lay/religious, aulic/popular culture
- The Balkan Diaspora in Romania and Romanians in today's South-East European area between the 19th and the 20th centuries
- Book circulation in the Romanian and South-East European area between the 18th and the 19th centuries
Institutions co-opted for this program:
The Faculty of Letters, Cluj-Napoca
The Faculty of History and Philosophy, Cluj-Napoca
The Faculty of Orthodox Religion, Cluj-Napoca
The Institute of South-East European Studies, Bucharest
The Libra Cultural Foundation, Bucharest
II. The History of the Imaginary Program
Coordinator: Assoc. Prof. Ovidiu Pecican, Ph. D.
The History of the Imaginary research group aims especially at investigating the relationships between project and reality in the Middle Ages, between this historical period and its historiographic, iconographic and narrative rendering.
Amongst the ongoing projects of this research group are:
- Ovidiu Pecican - a book entitled Imagined Realities and True Fictions. Studies in the Romanians' history of the imaginary throughout the Middle Ages
- Ovidiu Ghitta - studies on the religious imaginary in the modern period, with particular focus on the genesis and metamorphoses undergone by the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church in Partium and Transylvania
- Maria Ghitta - a Ph. D. dissertation on Antisemitism in Romania between the Two World Wars, investigating the imagination mechanisms that foster and encourage antisemitism
III. The Image of the U.S.A. in the Romanian Cold War Period Mass-Media Program
Coordinator: Stefan Borbely
Field: Cold War Studies; Political Science (Patterns of Hostile Imagination)
This project represents the first Romanian attempt to summarize the strategies of the hostile imagination towards the West promoted in Romania by the mass media of the Cold War period. I have selected the hostile image of the USA because it synthesizes all the psychological drives of mass hostility directed towards the Western world by the Communist ideology of the Cold War. The negative image of the USA is not only a part of the general negative stereotypes induced against the West at that time, but also a privileged strategy of focusing the hostile collective drives against the "main enemy", conceived as such by the political restrictions governing the bipolar world which emerged after World War II. Moreover, during the Cold War Period in Romania there were two main reasons favoring the ideological promotion of the USA as a privileged enemy. Romanians could not forget the heavy American bombings of the Prahova Valley oil terminals and of Bucharest during 1944. The resentment caused by this violence, which the majority of the population considered as being "unfair" (especially the devastating bombing of the Capital) was easily turned into ideological hostility by the newly emerged Communist regime. On the other hand, the strategy of promoting hostility against the USA was expected to crack down the expectations of the population to get rid of the Communist government with the help of a massive American intervention. "Vin americanii! - The Americans are coming!" was, indeed, the main informal slogan of that time; the expectation frustration caused by America's reluctance to restore the former order of the region was also used by the ideological institutions of the time to impose a negative drive against the Western World.
Structured into three main research strategies, the project intends to browse the following domains:
1. A theoretical approach to hostile imagination, to its political and psychological drives.
2. The image of the USA in Russia's communist documents, starting with Stalin's propaganda machine and moving on in time towards the Cuban crisis and the J. F. Kennedy - Hruschev confrontation.
3. The image of the USA and the stereotypes of the hostile imagination in the Romanian public opinion and the mass-media of the Cold War Period.
IV. The Image of the USA in Romanian Post-Communism Program
/A Study in Ideology & A Database/
Coordinator: Ruxandra Cesereanu
The Project intends to carry out a study in imagology and to build a mass media database, reflecting the way in which the Post-Communist political power and public opinion in Romania have referred to the image of the United States of America. The research starts from two sets of political representations of the USA, which have functioned at different times in the Romanian public mentality.
The first couple of contrastive images of the US to be analyzed belong to the Communist period in Romania (1945-1989). During this regime, two images were spontaneously or ideologically generated.
The first one was "the myth of the Americans' arrival" (the Americans seen as representing the Providential Savior). This myth was created by the political prisoners from the Communist camps across Romania (during 1944-1964), and by the Anti-Communist guerilla in the Romanian mountains, and it was adopted by the main part of the population who resisted the Communist regime. Through this myth, the Americans were seen as invincible warriors, who could defeat the almighty Soviet army, and as possible legislators in an Anti-Communist Romania.
On the other hand, the Communist regime projected onto the Americans the symbolic image of the enemy, satanizing the USA. The Communist ideology was impregnated with Gnostic, Apocalyptic and Messianic elements, accusing Western capitalism (and especially the USA as an exponential enemy) of incarnating the principle of Evil and Decadence.
During Romanian Post-Communism, these two imaginary tendencies have acquired further socio-political nuances.
One of the recent images of the US relies on the myth of the "conspiracy theory", issued by "crypto-communists" and by other nostalgics of the previous regime. In this trend of interpretation, the American influence on Romania is satanized. The malfunctioning and drawbacks of the Romanian economy and institutions are interpreted as international Anti-Romanian "plots" backed by the CIA. This "conspiracy myth" tries to explain, for example, the mythopolitical continuity between the Yalta (1945) and Malta (1989) political meetings, where the American presidents (Roosevelt, Bush) and the Soviet (Stalin, Gorbaciov) divided the world in two ideological and political hemispheres. (Of course, the former "plot" was a malefic conspiracy against Romania, the latter, a beneficial one).
Another Post-Communist image of the US is that of a paradisiacal space, of total freedom, where all the human possibilities find their realization. This myth supports, inside the Romanian mentality, the population's longing for emigrating into the USA or its obsession for joining the NATO.
Topics of Individual Research Programs
- Diana Adamek - "Alchemy of Chess Games"
- Stefan Borbély - "The Imaginary of the Cold War"
- Corin Braga - "The Failed Quest. The Forbidden Paradise in the Middle Ages"
- Carmen Bujdei - "Monsters in 20th Century English Literature"
- Ruxandra Cesereanu -"The Violent Imaginary of the Romanians"
- Sanda Cordos - "Post-Communism as a New World"
- Oleg Garaz - "Between Animism and Iconoclasm. Searching for the origins of Music"
- Edith Horvath Gelu - "The Imaginary of the Romanian Diaspora in Post-Communism"
- Marius Jucan - "The Imaginary of Modernity in American Culture and Literature"
- Mihaela Ursa - "Images of the Critic in Western Culture"
- Vasile Voia - "Principles of Modern Comparativism"
- Liana Cecilia Barbos - "Images of the Human Body in Fine Arts and Commercial Advertising"
- Maria Chetan - "Artistic Configurations in Literary Discourse"
- Cosmin Hiristea - "Poetics of the Sculptural Space in the 20th Century"
- Ovidiu Mircean - "Literature of the simulacra"
- Cristina Saracut - "Ekphrasis. Pictural Representations in the Literary Work"