Polish Culture and History

Polish Culture and History – introduction



To expose students to the historical, social and cultural heritage of Poland.

To help students understand the role of Poland in a changing Europe, as well as the historical and current issues surrounding the relationship between Eastern and Western Europe.

To encourage students to look at the   issues in a comparative framework.

The aim of the course

The lectures give a summary of Polish culture viewed in the historical and up to date perspective, enabling foreigners to understand it better.  The aim of the course is to show both the uncommonness of Polish culture and its universal character, as well as to outline its share in designing the wider European culture.

Short description

The cycle of lectures is focused on introducing foreign students to the Polish “national character”.  Historical facts are the leading topic of the meetings.  All historical events are referred to the contribution towards PolishWay, analogies and repetitions in social behavior of the Poles’ generations from the down up to present national habits, which form the Polish mentality.  The differences and similarities between the Poles and other European nations are discussed.  Importance of the cultural universe is shown, distinguishing features of the national character, traditions, and customs as well.  Polish language with its national messages is talked about with references to the culture and cultural realities .The lecture awaken students to Poland’s war with Communist rule – 1989 official name of the state: Polish People’s Republic became the history; a free and democratic Republic of Poland was born.

The lectures consist of several thematic issues such as:

1. Polish nation and culture in contrast to the background of other Slavonic nations.

2. The beginnings of the Polish statehood.  Polish tribes’ geography and beliefs.

3. The “Sarmatia” culture: Polish Character and Manners.

4. Roman-Catholic civilization versus The Poles and their culture.

5. Poland on the cultural and civilization map.  Polish lifestyle.

6.”For Your Freedom and Ours” from Polish perspective.

7. Polish Wars – historical overview.  “It all began in Poland 1939-1989”.

8. The Great Poles and Nobel Prize Winners.

9. Is the Polish culture multinational and multiethnic?

10. Ethnic minorities in Poland in the past and today.

11. Is Polish cuisine and culinary tradition just Polish?

12. The Polish Jew – history and the significance of Jewish culture in Poland.

13. 20th century – I, II World War, and Poland under Communist rule.

14. The Solidarity movement, with its charismatic leader Lech Wałęsa

 15.  Poland after 1989 to………NOW..?: remarkable people of Polish public life.


Conditions of the course – acceptance/credition

Acceptance/crediting based on final test.



 Kolek L., Polish Culture. An Historical Introduction, UMCS University Press, Lublin 1997.

Davies N., Heart of Europe. A Short History of Poland, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2005.

Davies N., God’s Playground.  A history of Poland, Oxford 2005.

Pogonowski, C. I., Poland.  An Illustrated History, Hippocrene Books Inc, New York 2000.

Sanford G., Poland.  The Conquest of History, Harwood Academic Publishers 1999.

Bubczyk R., A History of Poland in Outline, UMCS, Lublin 2006.

Suchodolski B., A History of Polish Culture, Interpress, Warsaw 1986.

Wrobel P., Historical Dictionary of Poland: 1945-1996, Greenwood Press, 1998.



Additional literature:


Ash T. G., The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of ‘89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague.  New York, Random House 1990.

Banaszkiewicz-Zygmunt E., Olendzki, Krzysztof, Poland: An Encyclopedic Guide, Polish Scientific Publishers PWN, Warsaw 2000.

Biskupski M.B., The history of Poland, Greenwood Press, 2000.

Brzozowska-Krajka A., Polish traditional folklore: the magic of time, East European Monographs, 1998.

Davies N., Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland.  Oxford University Press, Oxford 1986.

Davies N., Roger Moorhouse, Microcosm: A Portrait of a Central European City, London 2003.

Lukowski J., Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, Cambridge University Press 2006.

Zamoyski A., The Polish way: a thousand-year history of the Poles and their culture, F. Watts, 1988.


http: //www.poland.gov.pl









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