Polish Culture and History

Courses in foreign languages at the Faculty

Anna Siwik prof. AGH

Semester: all

Key words:

Polish Culture and History (print)

Course description:

Poland is a land  with  a long and tumultuous history;  the borders  have shifted over the past repeatedly. It was the period of  ‘the Rise to Power’ and ‘Decline and Partition’.  As I.T. Berend  said ‘Polish history is richin heroic but failed revolts and poor in negotiated compromises’. Only now, as we enter  the 21st century, has  it become  a stable democracy with  constitutional safeguards and with future prospects.

This course is an outline of Polish history, politics and culture from its origins in the Middle Ages  through the end of the 20th century.  The emphasis will be put on the dialectic of continuity and change across historical epochs. The historical determinants of the economic and the political development of  Poland are significant in an  international context as well, i.e., Eastern and Western  influences on culture. This course provides students with a clearer understanding of Poland’s complex history.

  1. The reception of Christianity and acceptance of Latin Culture.

  2. The atmosphere of “the Golden Age” of Poland .

  3. The shape of Sarmatian ideology.

  4. Culture and Society in the Polish Enlightenment.

  5. Partitioned Poland. 19th Polish Century Nationalism: the struggle between the romanticism of revolt and positivism.

  6. The coming of World War I and the collapse of the Empires. The Rebirth of Poland.

  7. Interwar Poland: society and its environment – social order, ethnic groups and economy.

  8. In the face of extermination: Poland in World War II.

  9. The Polish People’s Republic period: between capture and survival.

    1. How the communists seized power,

    2. The Stalinist period,

    3. The October ’56 thaw and “Small Stabilization”,

    4. The Gierek Epoch, - The Solidarity Revolution 1980-1981,

    5. Polish Social History 1982-1988,

    6. The fall of Communism,

    7. Events leading and contributing to Poland’s entrance into the European Union.


  • Mieczyslaw. B. Biskupski, The History of Poland (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000).

  • Adam Zamoyski, The  Polish Way: A Thousand-year History of The Poles And Their Culture,  (Hippocrene Books, Dec 1993)

  • George J. Lerski, Piotr  Wrobel and Richard J. Kozicki, Historical Dictionary of Poland 966-1945, (Westport CT. London, Greenwood Press, 1996).

Additional literature:

  • Timothy Garton Ash,The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, (New York, 1984; revised ed. 1990).

  • Robert Bubczyk , A History of Poland in Outline, (UMCS, Lublin 2006).

  • John Coutovidis and Jaime Reynolds, POLAND 1939-1947, (Leicester, U.K, and New York, 1986)

  • Patrice M. Dabrowski, Commemorations and the Shaping of Modern Poland, (Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN, 2004)

  • Norman Davies, God’s Playground. A History of Poland. Vol. I. Origins to 1795, (New York, 2003).

  • Norman Davies, God's Playground.A History of Poland, vol. II. 1795 to the Present, (New York, 1982, revised ed. 1989).

  • Pawel Jasienica, Jagiellonian Poland, (1386-1648) trans. by Alexander Jordan, (New York, 1987).

  • Jakub Karpinski, Countdown:The Polish Upheavals of 1956, 1968,1970, 1976 and 1980 (New York, Karz Cohl, 1982).

  • Krystyna Kersten, The Establishment of Communist Rule in Poland, 1943-1948, (Berkeley, Ca., 1991).

  • Jerzy Kloczowski,  History of Polish Christianity, (Cambridge, England, 2000).

  • Adam Michnik, The Church and The Left  trans. ed. David Ost, (Chicago, 1993).

  • David Ost, Solidarity and  The Politics of Anti-politics. Opposition and Reform in Poland since 1968,  (Philadelphia, Pa., 1990).

  • Marci Shore. Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation's Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968, ( New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2006).

  • Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus, 1569-1999,( New Haven, 2003)

  • Bogdan Suchodolski,   A History of Polish Culture, (Interpress, Warsaw 1986).

  • Richard  M. Watt, Bitter Glory. Poland and Its Fate, 1918-1939, (New York. Hippocrene Books. 1998).

  • Aleksander Wat, My Century: The Odyssey of a Polish Intellectual, ed and trans. Richard Lourie, foreword by Czeslaw Milosz, (Berkeley, CA, 1988).

Grading system:

  • bi-weekly consultations,

  • bi-weekly assignment of reading material,

  • one essay (topic chosen by student).


Course is given on individual tutorial basis.