Multicultural Poland (4 credit hours in HIS; 1-3 optional credit hours in Service Learning)
PWSW Instructors: Prof. Tomasz Olejarz; Prof. Agnieszka Bielec; and Ms. Agata Obratańska
Daemen Instructor: Dr. Andrew Kier Wise
Office: DS 235
Office hours: By appointment
Office phone: (716) 839-8281
Total lecture minutes: 3060 (enough for 4 credit hours)
Total service learning hours: 20-60 (enough for 1-3 credit hours)
Course Description: This study abroad course will provide students with a unique firsthand approach to studying the history of Poland, with a particular focus on the multicultural legacy evident in three cities: Warszawa, Kraków and Przemyśl. This survey will focus primarily on cultural developments, but students will also learn about key political, economic, and social developments in Polish history. While the broad swath of Polish history will be covered – from medieval times to the present – a particular focus in the readings, lectures, and site visits will be on the period from 1900-1945. Students will see many memorials, museums, and sites directly related to the events of World War I and World War II, including the Holocaust. Students will also have an opportunity to gain 3 credit hours in Service Learning for preservation work. This year, work will be conducted in a Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl, which was heavily damaged during the German occupation in World War II and is now being restored and mapped.
Student Learning Objectives -- after completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. Analyze and explain the key features of Polish history.
2. Analyze and explain the interplay of social and economic factors in the development of Polish literature and art.
3. Analyze and explain the multicultural aspects of Poland’s historical development.
4. Evaluate the crucial role that politics has played in Polish cultural development.
5. Analyze and explain how events in history are the result of multiple and integrated causes.
Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving:
6. Analyze and synthesize data from a variety of written texts, lectures, and site visits.
7. Display proficiency in written skills in paper assignments.
Evaluation of Student Learning
Learning Objectives 1,2,3,4,5,6,7: Response Papers and Final Paper. Percentage of Grade: 100%.
Textbook: Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland (2nd ed.)
Literature: Bruno Schultz, Street of Crocodiles. Description from book cover: “The Street of Crocodiles in the Polish city of Drogobych is a street of memories and dreams where recollections of Bruno Schulz's uncommon boyhood and of the eerie side of his merchant family's life are evoked in a startling blend of the real and the fantastic. Most memorable - and most chilling - is the portrait of the author's father, a maddened shopkeeper who imports rare birds' eggs to hatch in his attic, who believes tailors' dummies should be treated like people, and whose obsessive fear of cockroaches causes him to resemble one. Bruno Schulz, a Polish Jew killed by the Nazis in 1942, is considered by many to have been the leading Polish writer between the two world wars.”
Zofia Nałkowska, Medallions. Description from the book cover: “Considered a masterpiece of antifascist world literature, Medallions (written in 1945 and first published in 1946) stands as the culmination of Nalkowska's literary style -- a style that the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz once described as "the iron capital of her art and one of the very few exportables in our national literature." Written in documentary-narrative form, with simple, concise, severely elegant prose, the book gives voice to the experience of victims and witnesses of the Nazi genocide.
Medallions comprises seven short stories and one summation, "The Adults and Children of Auschwitz." These terse, sometimes fragmented pieces take the form of testimonials, private interviews, and chance conversations in which the protagonists, speaking for themselves from their limited understanding of the human drama, also speak on behalf of millions. More than mere historical record, Medallions presents the reader with a startlingly immediate performance -- the repetition of a past event as it persists in the testimonial present, in the scars on the consciousness and consciences of individuals.”
Andrzej Szczypiorski, The Beautful Mrs Seidemann. Description from the book cover: “In the Nazi-occupied Warsaw of 1943, Irma Seidenman, a young Jewish widow, possesses two attributes that can spell the difference between life and death: she has blue eyes and blond hair. With these, and a set of false papers, she has slipped out of the ghetto, passing as the wife of a Polish officer, until one day an informer spots her on the street and drags her off to the Gestapo. At times a dark lament, at others a sly and sardonic thriller, The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is the story of the thirty-six hours that follow Irma's arrest and the events that lead to her dramatic rescue as the last of Warsaw's Jews are about to meet their deaths in the burning ghetto.”
Select works by Polish poets (TBA)
Service Learning Reading: John J. Hartman and Jacek Krochmal. Tr. Agnieszka Andrzejewska. I Remember Every Day . . . The Fates of the Jews of Przemyśl during World War II
Response Papers (3) 75%
Final Term Paper 25%
Response Papers: Students must submit three (3) five-page response papers to specific questions related to assigned readings, lectures, and visits to historic sites. Each paper is worth 25% of the total course grade. Late papers will be docked half a letter grade for each day late.
Final Term Paper: Students will submit an eight-page paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the course instructors. This paper will combine student learning from lectures, readings, and experiential learning in the form of site visits, service learning, and/or internship work at Polish cultural sites. This paper will be due August 15.
Schedule of on-site and classroom lectures: Required readings are listed for lectures, and should be completed by that date.