The Department of Transnational Studies

Courses

Undergraduate Course Descriptions

 

Spring 2014

POL 211/AMS 295/DMS 212: Polish History in Film

Tuesdays/Thursdays:  9:30-10:50, 110 Capen

Instructor: Dr. Barbara Klassa, The Kosciuszko Foundation Visiting Scholar 2013-2014, University of Gdansk, Poland

Course description

More than eleven centuries long, the turbulent past of Poland offers a plethora of captivating stories, which all constitute fascinating material for the acclaimed Polish filmmaking industry that has produced some classics of Western cinema. However, as important as the original scripts or books on which some of the movies were based are the circumstances under which the movies reconstructing the past of Poland were made. As this course will focus on selected historical films made since the late 1950s, their interpretation must be thus placed in the context of directors either serving the official communist propaganda or fighting against censorship and adopting subtle and allusive ways to convey their message. Today, when many historical facts are finally being revealed in democratic Poland, the country has embarked upon yet another type of “the politics of memory,” which also results in rewriting the history of Poland and its peoples. Naturally, Polish moviemakers are not immune from these developments. As they attempt to popularize ideas and revelations about Polish history, offer new interpretations or reconcile the public with difficult episodes in the Polish past, they adopt and promote new biases.

This course will provide the students with a survey of the most important and most interesting Polish historical movies of the last fifty years. The course will not teach history through watching movies, but the movies will be analyzed and interpreted against the background of Polish history. We will examine the historical events portrayed, how they were presented and what shaped their interpretations. We will ask: What was the role of historical movies in Poland under the communist regime and after its demise? How have the messages conveyed and interest in particular historical periods changed over the last fifty years? How are films about Polish history useful in the European history classroom? We will explore both content and circumstances surrounding the production of the movies discussed. In addition to attending lectures, the students will watch selected movies, individually or in groups, discuss them in class and submit short reports and reviews. Assigned readings will provide historical background to the selected feature movies. This course does not require any previous knowledge on Poland or Polish history. It may serve as an introduction to the study of the history of the peoples of Poland.

 

POL 338: Poland in Europe

Tuesdays/Thursdays:  11:00-12:20, 105 Baldy

Instructor: Marta Cieslak

Course description

Poland in Europe aims to examine the idea of how political and historical processes taking place in Europe have shaped Poland as a nation and as a state and, conversely, how Poland as a political entity contributed to the formation of Europe. This course will investigate the evolution of the concept of Europe, its relation to such notions as Eastern, Western, or Central Europe, and its impact on the current politics of the European Union. The question of what it really means for a country and its population to be part of Europe and to be defined as European and what factors decide whether a nation or a state may be included in Europe will rest at the center of our investigation. The students will explore how shifting geographical borders as well as changing political and social concepts have influenced the idea of who may belong to and who is excluded from European heritage. They will also attempt to draw the borders of Europe and decide how they are different from the geographical boundaries of the European continent.

This course will focus on the place of Poland in Europe as seen and explored from the internal perspective of Polish authors and scholars as well as from the viewpoint of outsiders. The students will look into the question of how the concept of Europe has shaped the historical, social, and national consciousness of Poles and how Poles have contributed to the complex heritage of Europe. They will also investigate how Poland, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse European countries building its multicultural heritage for centuries, turned into a relatively homogenous nation-state in only a few decades of the twentieth century. Finally, the course will also examine the place of today’s Poland in Europe and the European Union. The students will analyze the politics of the European Union and attempt to connect the principles of this politics with the foundations of the idea of Europe.

 

POL 411/AMS 411: Polish Transatlantic Crossings

Tuesdays/Thursdays:  12:30-1:50, 113 Baldy

Instructor: Dr. Barbara Klassa, The Kosciuszko Foundation Visiting Scholar 2013-2014, University of Gdansk, Poland

Course description

Cross-cultural encounters, including both the maintenance of separate diaspora identities and immigrant acculturation and integration processes, make up a significant part of the history of all societies. This course examines those broad themes in the Americas from the standpoint of one of the largest participants in transatlantic encounters—Poland and its diaspora. The peoples of Poland have been crossing the Atlantic Ocean in search of “bread and freedom” for centuries. They can be found in the colony of Jamestown, the industrial centers of the American Midwest, establishing settlements in the arid lands of Texas and in the Brazilian jungle, fighting alongside Washington and Bolivar, constructing railways in the Andes, and even defending goal for the Uruguayan national soccer team. Poles fought on both sides of the Haitian War for Independence, the American Civil War and the French intervention in Mexico.

This course will investigate Poland and its diaspora in their multifaceted transatlantic contexts. It will explore Polish immigrants’ participation in and impact on the political, economic, social, and cultural history of countries on both American continents while it will look at the broader question of the various ways in which both the newcomers and their descendants in the Americas maintained links to their ancestral homelands. Through the analysis of this question, we will investigate a particular dimension of “foreign relations” that encompass economy, politics and culture. The students will confront numerous portrayals of the immigrants, placing them in the context of past and present racial, ethnic and class relations.

The examination of the origins, transformations and consequences of selected processes in the history of migration will foster the students’ understanding of the nature of transatlantic connections. While this course investigates both sides of the Atlantic, examining push and pull factors, major emphasis will be devoted to the case study of Poles in the Americas: from Curitiba to Toronto, from Arica to Seattle. Based on the Polish example, the students will be encouraged to explore the diverse nature of both past and present transatlantic cross-cultural contact.

Fall 2013

POL 210: The History of Poland

Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30 – 10:50, 120 Baldy Hall

Instructor: The Kosciuszko Foundation Visiting Scholar 2013-2014 (TBA)

This is an introductory course to the history of Poland. Throughout the semester, we will explore the rise of the Polish state, its integration into the Latin civilization as well as its role in Eastern Europe. We will also investigate Poland’s disappearance form the maps of Europe for 123 years. As the course formula accommodates only a concise survey of major developments and turning points in Poland’s millennium-long history, selected events, themes, and issues will be examined in detail. These include: the changing meanings and interpretations of freedom (political, civic, religious etc.), Poland’s foreign connections and their influence on the country’s security and independence, the Republic’s expansion and contraction, and its peoples’ migrations. The students will also look for answers to the questions pertaining to the Polish struggle for independence and sovereignty throughout the 20th century. The course will conclude with the examination of the anti-communist opposition since the mid-1940s, including the pivotal role of “Solidarity” in the 1980s.

 

POL 211/APY 250/ SOC 222: European Union: History and European Identity

Tuesday/Thursday, 11:00-12:20, 146 Park Hall

Instructor: Marta Cieslak

Click here to see the flyer of European Union: History and European Identity

This course examines the political, economic, social and intellectual history of the European Union (EU). The question of how the creation and expansion of the EU have both shaped and reflected the history of the European continent and the world will rest at the center of our investigation. By exploring the major political, economic and social factors that triggered first the creation and then the expansion of the EU, we will inquire into how the existence of the EU has affected and has been affected by multiple identities within the European continent and outside of it. What does European identity stand for and where are the roots of this concept? How has the existence of the EU contributed to the notion of European identity and how has the EU expansion changed it? How does the concept of European identity correlate with the national, racial, class, ethnic, gender or linguistic identities of the individuals and peoples who inhabit the EU and reside outside of its borders? Finally, what is the relation between the EU and those European states and peoples who remain excluded from EU membership?

We will approach these questions from the perspective of Poland, the largest among the more recently accepted member-states. The case of Poland serves as a particularly revealing illustration of the widespread tensions between unionists and nationalists that have emerged across the EU. While unionists support the notions of united Europe and common European identity, nationalists consider the EU to be a threat to respective national identities and interests. As Poland is home to both some of the most passionate EU enthusiasts and most fervent nationalists insisting on the protection of the Polish national interest against the apparently detrimental impact of the EU, its standpoint will help us understand why the EU has been triggering such extreme and often fluctuating reactions among the citizens of the member-states.

In general terms, by looking into the past, we will endeavor to understand what the EU is today and how its existence affects the lives of the citizens of the member-states. We will also examine why this influential alliance refuses to open its door to some countries while inviting others to join. Finally, we will reflect on some challenges that this one of the most powerful unions of states may confront in its nearest future.

Spring 2013

POL 211/HIS 211/DMS 212: Polish History in Film

Spring 2013

Tuesdays/Thursdays:  9:30-10:50, 111 Baldy

Instructor: Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz

Click here to see the flyer of Polish History in Film

Course description

More than eleven centuries long, the turbulent past of Poland offers a plethora of captivating stories, which all constitute fascinating material for the acclaimed Polish filmmaking industry that has produced some classics of Western cinema. However, as important as the original scripts or books on which some of the movies were based are the circumstances under which the movies reconstructing the past of Poland were made. As this course will focus on selected historical films made since the late 1950s, their interpretation must be thus placed in the context of directors either serving the official communist propaganda or fighting against censorship and adopting subtle and allusive ways to convey their message. Today, when many historical facts are finally being revealed in democratic Poland, the country has embarked upon yet another type of “the politics of memory,” which also results in rewriting the history of Poland and its peoples. Naturally, Polish moviemakers are not immune from these developments. As they attempt to popularize ideas and revelations about Polish history, offer new interpretations or reconcile the public with difficult episodes in the Polish past, they adopt and promote new biases.

This course will provide the students with a survey of the most important and most interesting Polish historical movies of the last fifty years. The course will not teach history through watching movies, but the movies will be analyzed and interpreted against the background of Polish history. We will examine the historical events portrayed, how they were presented and what shaped their interpretations. We will ask: What was the role of historical movies in Poland under the communist regime and after its demise? How have the messages conveyed and interest in particular historical periods changed over the last fifty years? How are films about Polish history useful in the European history classroom? We will explore both content and circumstances surrounding the production of the movies discussed. In addition to attending lectures, the students will watch selected movies, individually or in groups, discuss them in class and submit short reports and reviews. Assigned readings will provide historical background to the selected feature movies. This course does not require any previous knowledge on Poland or Polish history. It may serve as an introduction to the study of the history of the peoples of Poland.

 

POL 338/PSC 360: Poland in Europe

Spring 2013

Tuesdays/Thursdays:  11:00-12:20, 104 Clemens

Instructor: Marta Cieslak

Click here to see the flyer of Poland in Europe

Course description

Poland in Europe aims to examine the idea of how political and historical processes taking place in Europe have shaped Poland as a nation and as a state and, conversely, how Poland as a political entity contributed to the formation of Europe. This course will investigate the evolution of the concept of Europe, its relation to such notions as Eastern, Western, or Central Europe, and its impact on the current politics of the European Union. The question of what it really means for a country and its population to be part of Europe and to be defined as European and what factors decide whether a nation or a state may be included in Europe will rest at the center of our investigation. The students will explore how shifting geographical borders as well as changing political and social concepts have influenced the idea of who may belong to and who is excluded from European heritage. They will also attempt to draw the borders of Europe and decide how they are different from the geographical boundaries of the European continent.

This course will focus on the place of Poland in Europe as seen and explored from the internal perspective of Polish authors and scholars as well as from the viewpoint of outsiders. The students will look into the question of how the concept of Europe has shaped the historical, social, and national consciousness of Poles and how Poles have contributed to the complex heritage of Europe. They will also investigate how Poland, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse European countries building its multicultural heritage for centuries, turned into a relatively homogenous nation-state in only a few decades of the twentieth century. Finally, the course will also examine the place of today’s Poland in Europe and the European Union. The students will analyze the politics of the European Union and attempt to connect the principles of this politics with the foundations of the idea of Europe.

 

POL 411: Polish Transatlantic Crossings

Spring 2013

Tuesdays/Thursdays:  12:30-1:50, 114 Baldy

Instructor: Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz

Click here to see the flyer of Polish Transatlantic Crossings

Course description

Cross-cultural encounters, including both the maintenance of separate diaspora identities and immigrant acculturation and integration processes, make up a significant part of the history of all societies. This course examines those broad themes in the Americas from the standpoint of one of the largest participants in transatlantic encounters—Poland and its diaspora. The peoples of Poland have been crossing the Atlantic Ocean in search of “bread and freedom” for centuries. They can be found in the colony of Jamestown, the industrial centers of the American Midwest, establishing settlements in the arid lands of Texas and in the Brazilian jungle, fighting alongside Washington and Bolivar, constructing railways in the Andes, and even defending goal for the Uruguayan national soccer team. Poles fought on both sides of the Haitian War for Independence, the American Civil War and the French intervention in Mexico.

This course will investigate Poland and its diaspora in their multifaceted transatlantic contexts. It will explore Polish immigrants’ participation in and impact on the political, economic, social, and cultural history of countries on both American continents while it will look at the broader question of the various ways in which both the newcomers and their descendants in the Americas maintained links to their ancestral homelands. Through the analysis of this question, we will investigate a particular dimension of “foreign relations” that encompass economy, politics and culture. The students will confront numerous portrayals of the immigrants, placing them in the context of past and present racial, ethnic and class relations.

The examination of the origins, transformations and consequences of selected processes in the history of migration will foster the students’ understanding of the nature of transatlantic connections. While this course investigates both sides of the Atlantic, examining push and pull factors, major emphasis will be devoted to the case study of Poles in the Americas: from Curitiba to Toronto, from Arica to Seattle. Based on the Polish example, the students will be encouraged to explore the diverse nature of both past and present transatlantic cross-cultural contact.

 

Fall 2012

POL210: The History of Poland

Tuesday/Thursday 9.30 – 10.50

Room: 1004 Clemens Hall

Instructor: Anna Mazurkiewicz

See flyer for POL210: The History of Poland

This is an introductory course to the history of Poland. Throughout the semester, we will explore the rise of the Polish state, its integration into the Latin civilization as well as its role in Eastern Europe. We will also investigate Poland’s disappearance form the maps of Europe for 123 years. As the course formula accommodates only a concise survey of major developments and turning points in Poland’s millennium-long history, selected events, themes, and issues will be examined in detail. These include: the changing meanings and interpretations of freedom (political, civic, religious etc.), Poland’s foreign connections and their influence on the country’s security and independence, the Republic’s expansion and contraction, and its peoples’ migrations. The students will also look for answers to the questions pertaining to the Polish struggle for independence and sovereignty throughout the 20th century. The course will conclude with the examination of the anti-communist opposition since the mid-1940s, including the pivotal role of “Solidarity” in the 1980s.

 

POL 411: Polish Road to Freedom

Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 – 12:20

Room: 732 Clemens Hall

Instructor: Anna Mazurkiewicz

See flyer for POL411: Polish Road to Freedom

Polish struggle for freedom and independence in the 20th century and historical debates that surround it play an important role in the current political and public debates in Poland. Conversely, contemporary Poland tends to be perceived as largely pro-American. Is there any connection between these two phenomena? This course explores the transatlantic determinants of the Polish struggle for independence in the 20th century. The students will examine the circumstances surrounding the reestablishment of the Polish Republics (2nd, People’s, 3rd) beginning in 1918, 1945, and 1989 respectively. We will begin by looking into early Polish-American connections and we will examine some shared values at the time of the birth of the United States, which coincided with Poland’s demise. Given the scale of the Polish immigration to the U.S. throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, we will also investigate the political impact of the Polish diaspora on the American attitudes towards Poles and Poland. The main aim of this class is to analyze and understand today’s Poland in the context of the legacy of its multiple struggles for freedom. We will explore Poland’s international relations, its place in the world and its current position on the question of American-Polish relations.