Volume 22, Number 2 Spring 2000

Table of Contents:

Professor Samuel Fiszman (1914-1999)

Professor Samuel Fiszman, our senior colleague, advisor, and friend passed away on December 12, 1999. For all of us, regardless of the level of acquaintance with him, Professor Samuel Fiszman was an embodiment of scholarly selflessness, dedication, and perseverance.                                                                      

Professor Fiszman came to the United States in 1970 to teach Polish and Russian literatures at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Indiana University in Bloomington. He was one of many scholars and scientists purged from Polish universities in 1968 as the result of the communist governments anti-Semitic politics. During his years in Poland, he chaired the Department of Russian Philology at Warsaw University and was a vice-chairman with the Slavonic Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Letters in Warsaw. In both capacities, he trained several generations of scholars, such as Andrzej Walicki and Ryszard Przybylski who gained an international prominence in their respective disciplines. 

Prof. Fiszman's scholarly interests focused on Polish and Russian literatures, in particular, on the 19th century. While he wrote extensively on Alexandr Pushkin, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, and others,
it was the Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz whom he studied with incomparable passion and dedicated nearly thirty articles to him. In a quite telling manner, Prof. Fiszman began his scholarly career with his discoveries of the originals of Mickiewicz's unknown work, and returned to Mickiewicz towards the end of life. He died while preparing a volume of collected essays for publication, which partly consists of the papers delivered at the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America conference. Currently, this project is continued by his wife, Mrs. Alicja Fiszman. 

This contribution, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mickiewicz's birth, was preceded by two other conferences that Prof. Fiszman organized under the aegis of the Polish Studies Center. Both bi-national conferences concluded with monumental editions of essays by various authors published
by Indiana University Press. These were: The Polish Renaissance in Its European Context (1988) and Constitution and Reform in Eighteenth-Century Poland (1997). The editorial care that Prof. Fiszman put into preparing both volumes was exemplary; his sense of aesthetics and knowledge of visual sources allowed him to richly illustrate both volumes with reproductions of Polish prints. 

We see the same love of old Polish prints in one of his other major projects. The exhibit "Polonica of the 15th and 20th Centuries in the Libraries of Indiana University in Bloomington" was meticulously put
together and demonstrated to our community how rich the IU holdings related to Poland are. 

It should be emphasized that since his retirement, Prof. Fiszman's creativity and energy in the conferences and publications played an important role in diversifying our centers program. 

Obviously, Prof. Fiszmans numerous achievements and contributions to the field of Polish literature go beyond the above account. His impressive knowledge and intellectual generosity will be missed by scholars in the States and in Poland. Most importantly, it is his presence that we irrevocably lost.

Bozena Shallcross

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Director's Remarks

As you may know, the academic year of 1999-2000 was a period of transition at the Polish Studies Center as Prof. Tim Wiles's last term as director ended and I was honored to be the center's next director. It was a year marked by intensive work a portion of which is reported on the following pages. This is the first issue edited by yours truly and it appears in a new visual format. I would like to thank Prof. James Reidhaar from the IU School of Fine Arts and his student Myung-Iun Lee for their generosity in designing our newsletter. 

I would like to use this opportunity to report on the center's future research projects. During my term as director, the center will organize a conference every September. Preparation for this fall's conference
"Polonophilia and Polonophobia of the Russians" is under way. Scheduled for September 15-17, 2000, the event is a collaborative effort of Profs. David Ransel (IU, REEI), Alexandr Dolinin (U of Wisconsin at Madison), and myself. I am also pleased to announce that some preliminary planning has been already done for the 2001 conference, which will examine the image of the "other" in Slavic cultures. 

Among our other projects are two major publications. The volume Home/Less: The Polish Experience, edited by myself, is to be completed this summer. The volume of essays by various authors dedicated to Adam Mickiewicz--one of Prof. Samuel Fiszmans last scholarly projects--is being edited by Mrs. Alicja Fiszman and Prof. Teddy Robertson (U of Michigan at Flynt).  

In my final note, I would like to invite those of you who have not seen our headquarters located on 1217 Atwater Avenue to visit us. Filled with Polish works of art, books, and a growing film collection, the center is in the final stages of refurnishing and decorating.  -BS

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The Age of Chopin: The Chopin Sesquicentenial Symposium 

The symposium was held at Indiana University on September 17-19, 1999. It was organized by the PSC, REEI, the Office of International Programs, the School of Music and the Multdisciplinary Ventures and Seminars Fund at IU. Donations came from the Polish Ministry of Culture and the Kosciuszko Foundation. Among the organizers, Halina Goldberg (School of Music) and Bozena Shallcross (Slavics, Director of PSC) were, among the other participants, the primary organizers.

The first session brought two keynote addresses, by Daniel Stone (historian, U. of Winnipeg) who talked about "Chopin and Poland: The Historical Background" and Douglas Hofstadter (physicist, cognitive scientist, Slavist and music theorist, IU, on leave at Stanford U.) who discussed his fascination with Chopin’s music in a lively address "A Lifelong Passion for Chopin’s Fire." Stone, one of the leading historians of Poland presented a "what-if" game: what if we were celebrating Chopin’s tenth death anniversary, not 150th? The answer contrasted the conditions existing in the Polish Peoples Republic with those under Russian partitions, and concluded that the composer would either write very difficult atonal music or be a jazz pianist - these two styles served to protest the government in the 1950s and 1960s.

After a coffee break organized by the energetic Lois Plew (who coordinated the details of the whole conference), the program of the conference began in earnest. The Friday session was entitled "Memories, Images and Dreams" - presenters included Waldemar Okon (U. of Wroclaw), John Nici (Queens College, CUNY), Bozena Shallcross (IU), Jeffery Kallberg (U. of Pennsylvania).

The first concert, on Friday night, entitled "Chopin in the Salon" included a mammoth program of 15 compositions by Chopin and his contemporaries, performed by an array of IU students, faculty and guests, most notably Teresa Kubiak who sang Chopin’s songs. The hall was filled to capacity and about 100 students stood in the hallways, by the walls - a great success!

The conference program of Saturday morning focused on Chopin’s dance.  Eric McKee (Penn State U.), Barbara Milewski (Princeton U), Carl Schachter (City U. of New York), and Leslie Kearney (IU) addressed various aspects of this topic in Chopin’s works. The first afternoon session dealt with the context of Chopin’s music in film and theatre and featured presentations by Halina Filipowicz, (U. of Wisconsin at Madison), Marianne Kielian-Gilbert (IU). This was followed by a session on "Gender, Genre, Genius," with James Parakilas (Bates College) , Whitney Walton and Irena Poniatowska (Warsaw U.).

The concert entitled "Chopin on Chopin's Piano" was given by Edmund Battersby, an IU professor who performed an all-Chopin recital on the School of Musics copy of the 19th Century Graff piano – Chopin’s instrument of choice at Vienna.

Chopin reception was the subject of the Sunday session, "Chopin Appropriated." This was addressed by Zofia Chechlinska (Polish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Warsaw), Maria Anna Harley, and Sandra Rosenblum (Boston, MA). In the last paper of the symposium Maciej Golab (Warsaw U.) classified the different types of transcriptions of Chopin’s works and illustrated his classification method with many examples.

The final concert, "Monsieur Chopin the Public Virtuoso" with Edward Auer was a delight not to be forgotten very soon.  Auer, the first American laureate of Chopin competition in Warsaw, closed the program after talented performances by Reiko Neriki, Teresa Kubiak and Leah Hunt.  The orchestra was very well prepared by A. Peter Brown and the sounds of Chopin’s polonaise carried in the memory, accompanied us on the way to the airport.

Maria Anna Harley

The full version of this report, which includes a brief description of each paper, appears on-line at


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Recent Events

·         Polish & Romanian Poster Exhibit  A colorful flyer announcing the showing of more than 40 Polish and Romanian posters attracted viewers long before the opening ceremony at the School of Fine Arts gallery.  Both informative and appealing, the flyer functions as a tangible trace of the exhibit, which took place between October 22-November 21, 1999.

Organized by Maria Bucur (History) and Timothy Wiles (English and PSC), the project was both a powerful and laconic statement of the art of the poster under communism.  Capturing the paradox of resisting the imposed ideology, on the one hand, and its slavish mimicking, on the other, the show evoked the direct language of images fused with verbal elements.

A roundtable discussion that included Christina Illias (Slavics, Classics), Laszlo Bohri (Hungarian Studies), and Bozenna Shallcross (Slavics, PSC) as well as two special lectures by Romanian specialists Marius Marcu-Lapadat and Augustin Ioan examined a variety of political and aesthetic issues related to the show.  BS

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Adam Michnik Visits IU

“Having been Jaruzelski’s prisoner, I now take joy in being his advocate.” On that note Michnik concluded a presentation on “The Future of Democracy and the Role of the Democratic Intellectual,” Tuesday, February 29. Michnik is highly critical of lustration or any measures on the part of victorious anti-communists after 1989 that smell of vengeance. Instead, he speaks of reconciliation. This even extends to General Jaruzelski, the man who instituted martial law and disbanded Solidarity in the early 1980s.

Times change, but Adam Michnik essentially has not. The post-Cold War world is considerably more complicated for intellectuals than it was during the years of communist dictatorship, but their role remains the same. Michnik called his understanding of this role both “provocative and conservative.” An intellectual should maintain a “critical consciousness of his own time.” This was the case under communism and applies to democratic societies as well. He explained, “I never accepted the philosophy that one should be on the side of the majority. It is very likely the majority could be wrong.” His lecture on the role of the intellectual was part of a week long visit to Indiana University.  Racing about town in his tweed jacket and rumpled sweater, Michnik gave public presentations, private interviews, attended intellectual gatherings, made a radio appearance, adjusted to America’s restrictive smoking policies, and continued to run his newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza via a constant stream of calls and faxes.  Primary sponsors of the visit were the Polish Studies Center, the Center for the Study of Democracy and Public Life and REEI. Professors Bozena Shallcross and Jeffrey Isaac did much of the organization. Other sponsors included the Center for Global Change, Faculty Seminar on Socialist Cultures, Political Science Department, School of Law, Institute for Development Studies, Jewish Studies Program, History Department, and the IU Student Association. Jacek Dalecki served as Michnik’s interpreter at his public presentations.

Michnik is well informed about world politics and commented throughout the week on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the Pinochet affair and the recent elections in Austria to the wars in Chechnya and the Balkans and Japanese interpretations of World War II.  However, one theme always present in his discussions was history. As he views it, the role of the intellectual is also to “look at the past with an eye to the future.” Michnik’s interest in history predates his recognition as a world-renowned intellectual. In 1964, he entered the History Department at Warsaw University, but real and perceived dissident activities earned him expulsion and imprisonment. After prison and a stint in a light bulb factory, he earned an MA in history as an extension student from Poznań University in 1975. Jeffrey Isaac jokingly pointed out that Michnik had perhaps not made the best career choices. He then added that Michnik might not have spent his time building an attractive curriculum vitae, but he helped change the world far more than most academics.

Since his participation in the “Seekers of Contradictions” club as a teenager he has always been a man of conscience and a social and political critic. His achievements include work with the “Flying University,” which taught unsanctioned classes that provided unofficial views in private settings. He was a founder of the Committee for Workers’ Defense (KOR) and a key advisor for Solidarity. He spent a total of six years in prison under Poland’s communist regime, during which he wrote some of his most poignant essays. These essays were (and are) widely read in the West in the volume Letters from Prison and Other Essays, which was released during his final imprisonment in 1985. In 1989, Michnik participated in the Roundtable discussions that ended the Communist Party’s monopoly of power. Soon after, Michnik was elected a member of parliament. Asked if he felt uncomfortable in the role of politician, he responded flatly: “It was a revolution and I went to the barricades, but I didn’t want to live there.” Michnik has since settled back into civilian life and currently runs the most popular newspaper in Poland. He has also recently published a new book entitled Letters from Freedom.

At Indiana University, Michnik spoke often of how the “demons of yesterday” are still alive today and not just in Poland, but all of Europe. For members of the former East Bloc he considers the problem particularly acute. In his view: “Communism was like a freezer of national public memory.” Subsequently, in an effort to reverse the communist interpretations of history, opponents of the communist regimes created their own equally skewed understanding of history. Today, many people indiscriminately consider all anti-communists as heroes regardless of whether they acted in the service of Hitler, Pinochet, or Solidarity. Michnik stressed that only by accepting and understanding the complexity of history and the mass-conformism that allowed communist dictatorships to function is it possible to “settle accounts” with the past and begin to move forward.

To Michnik, the role of the intellectual is to point out the inconsistencies between truth and interpretation, and to understand that politics is limited to what is possible. Michnik sees a double standard in the West’s actions in Kosovo and silence about Chechnya. The intellectual, he contended, must condemn the tragedy of Chechnya and yet accept the fact that little will be done. Michnik added that the gap between what is moral and what is possible does not apply only to international conflicts. Michnik estimates that the Chechens’ first mistake was to not contemplate the consequences of their actions before deciding on violence as a means to achieve their aims. All post-communist countries must also consider this balance before embarking on a course of lustration or harsher historical correctives. If justice means risking civil war, then it is counterproductive. Michnik’s view is not motivated by pacifist idealism, but by practical considerations. Likewise, Michnik sees Poland’s entry into NATO as a positive development and the best guarantor of its security needs. Michnik then added with a smile that the ultimate answer to post-communist politics would be biological. “We should all just pass away and let it be history.”

On March 3, Vladimir Tismaneanu joined Michnik for a “Dialogue on the Question of National Identity.” Tismaneanu defected from Romania in the 1980s and is currently a professor at the University of Maryland and heads the Center for Post-Communist Studies in addition to editing the journal East European Politics and Society. In her introduction, Maria Bucur-Deckard, cited Michnik’s and Tismaneanu’s roles as “public intellectuals” as the reason for bringing them together. They can are both scholars and activists.

Michnik addressed three problems concerning national identity in Central and East Europe today. First is the heritage of communism. The question must be asked, “How did communism change those who lived under it?” Second is the heritage of fascism, which was an all-European experience that was insufficiently worked through during the Cold War. Third is the new challenge of globalization. Michnik fears the evolving “transnational society” is reducing people to mere economic units. Therefore, he finds himself feeling more “national” these days because he views care for national values as care for human values in general.

Tismaneanu explained that the problem of nationalism in East Europe stems from weak liberal traditions that were further eroded by communism. He also noted that not all nationalism is bad. Both positive and negative forms of nationalism can and often do exist not only in the same culture, but even in individuals. He spoke of today’s nationalism as a dangerous mixture of pre-modern anxiety with post-modern desires and commented that the paradox of the 20th century is that communism incorporated themes and symbols of the extreme right.

A major theme of the discussion was competing memories of victim-hood. Michnik cited the Baltic states as an example. He said a feeling of abandonment and betrayal by the international community during and following World War II has caused these nations to consider their own victim-hood above all else. This makes it difficult for Baltic peoples to discuss and evaluate clearly their legacies of anti-Semitism or the role of those who fought with the Germans against the Soviets, thus hindering democratic progress. History impacts Polish-Lithuanian relations with particular strength. Here, Michnik laid a greater measure of guilt on the Poles, but noted a defensive “inferiority complex” among the Lithuanians. Turning to the Balkans, Michnik commented that after being bombed by a superpower, Serbian intellectuals invariably view his or her nation as a victim.

Considering ethnic problems, Michnik mentioned that Poland has been aided by a higher degree of ethnic homogeneity than it had previously enjoyed. If Poland had its pre-war borders, it might be no different than the Balkans. He continued, “It is easy to pick a fight, but hard to be constructive.”

In a review of Michnik’s recent book Letters from Freedom, Tismaneanu wrote: “Unpredictable and deliberately controversial, Michnik remains one of the freest and most vivid voices of contemporary democratic thought.”  After a week of thought provoking discussions, IU students and faculty agree that Adam Michnik lives up to his legendary reputation.

                                                                                    By Janis Cakars

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We would like to thank everyone who has graciously donated to the PSC in the past year.

The 1999 PSC Foundation Donors were:  Frank & Alma Baranowski, Judith Blanchard, Nancy & Peter Boerner, Janna Brennan, Ronnie Carter, John Cetnarowski-Cetner, Anna Cienciala, Richard & Mary Hermanowski, Harriet Isray, Francis Kajencki, Wallace & Mary Kosinski, Jerzy Maciuszko, Janet Magnuson, Maria Mastalerz, Helen Morrisey, Thomas & Diane Peters, Gilbert Rappaport, Pres. & Mrs. John W. Ryan, Dave Shallcross, Mary Slosarz, Felix Smigel, Charlene A. Soby, Peter & Sokolowski, Thomas Sosnowski, Toni Thompson, Eleanor Valentine Jakubiak.

In addition, The PSC received a sizable art book collection from Arthur Zygmont and his son Zenon. The collection belonged to the late Mrs. Zygmont.

Finally, the Polish Studies Center received a monumental poster by a contemporary Polish artist Andrzej P_Gowski from Melissa and Janis Cakars.


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Last updated: November, 2000
URL: http://www.indiana.edu/~polishst/visitors.html
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