Slavic Languages and Literatures | Survey of Polish Literature and Cultures I and II
P363 | ALL | Beinek
This course traces the main developments in the history of Polish
literature and culture in the context of Western and East
European/Slavic traditions, with a particular focus on the
interdependence of history, politics, literature, and the arts. First
semester: The Middle Ages to 1900. Second semester: The Twentieth
Century. These two courses can be taken independently of each other.
All texts in English; students with a good reading knowledge of Polish
may read in the original Polish. Readings supplemented by feature
films, documentaries, and music recordings.
Topics of interest: What connections are there between
European/Russian cultural practices and Polish literature? Is there a
set of topoi and themes with which Polish literature is concerned
across ages? Are there genres that dominate Polish literary
tradition? How do Polish writers negotiate the imperative to write
socially-engaged works with the impulse to create “art for art’s
sake”? How has 20th-century Polish literature refracted traumatic
experiences of World War II, the Holocaust, and communism? What is
happening in Polish literature and culture today?
P363 readings (The Middle Ages to 1900): medieval religious hymns,
songs, and lay poetry, Renaissance epigrams, songs, and funerary
poetry by Kochanowski, Sęp-Szarzyński’s metaphysical sonnets, Baroque
love poetry by Morsztyn, Pasek’s Sarmatian memoirs, the Enlightenment
fables and satires by Krasicki, the first Polish novel by Krasicki,
Romantic lyrics by Mickiewicz, Słowacki, Krasiński, and Norwid,
Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz – the Polish national epic, and Positivist
novels by Prus and Sienkiewicz.
P364 readings (The Twentieth Century): turn-of-the century and
Modernist drama (Wyspiański, Witkacy), Modernist prose (Gombrowicz and
Schulz), poetry of the Interwar and World War II period (Tuwim,
Peiper, Przyboś, Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Baczyński), post-war
official, underground, and émigré literature (Mrożek, Andrzejewski),
novels (Gombrowicz), autobiographical essays (Miłosz), and reportages
(Kapuściński, Krall). Special attention given to 20th-century Polish
poetry (Herbert, Zagajewski, Hartwig, Białoszewski, Barańczak) and its
two Polish Nobel Prize laureates: Miłosz (1980) and Szymborska (1996).