Postwar Polish Literature and Politics

University of Michigan

Polish Literature 432

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Winter 1989
Instructor: Dr. Bogdana Carpenter

Weekly Topics and Readings:

  1. Organization of the class.
  2. Historical necessity and the "new faith."
    Czeslaw Milosz'sThe Captive Mind (Chapters 1-3) and selected poems.
  3. The World War 2 and nihilism.
    The Captive Mind (Ch. 5, "Beta, the Disappointed Lover").
    Tadeusz Borowski's short story, "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen."
    Tadeusz Rozewicz's poetry.
  4. The power of dialectics.
  5. The Captive Mind (Ch. 4,"Alpha, the Moralist")
    Jerzy Andrzejewski's The Inquisitors.
  6. The struggle for power.
    Ashes and Diamonds: the novel and the film.
  7. 1956 and the "Thaw." Indictment of Stalinism.
    Adam Wazyk's "A Poem for Adults."
    Marek Hlasko's "The Graveyard."
  8. Revisionism, "turpism," and anti-utopia.
    Wiktor Woroszylski's "Notes for a Biography."
    Selected poems of Andrzej Bursa, Stanislaw Grochowiak, Wislawa Szymborska, Miron Bialoszewski.
  9. Communism in a distorted mirror: the convention of the absurd.
    Slawomir Mrozek's short stories "The Elephant" and "Children" and his plays: Charlie and Tango
  10. Polish microcosm.
    Tadeusz Konwicki's The Polish Complex.
  11. The "power of taste".
    Zbigniew Herbert: "Interview with Zbigniew Herbert," The Manhattan Review, 1984 and selected poems.
  12. The poet as witness.
    Zbigniew Herbert: Report from the Besieged City
  13. Distrust of Language. Generation 68.
    Interview with Stanislaw Baranczak, The Manhattan Review, l981.
    Poems by Stanislaw Baranczak, Krzysztof Karasek, Adam Zagajewski, Ryszard Krynicki.
  14. Literature, Solidarity and martial law.
    Marek Nowakowski's short stories.
    Poems by Anka Kowalska, Jan Polkowski, Leszek Szaruga, Adam Zagajewski, Ryszard Krynicki, Lothar Herbst and Bronislaw Maj.
  15. Conclusions: between Literature and politics.
    Pawel Hertz: "Recollections from the House of the Dead."
    Witold Gombrowicz: Diary (excerpts).

Papers and exams:

Two short papers, one final exam.

Bogdana Carpenter is a Professor of Polish and Chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan.

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