We make the three levels of Polish language available each academic year. Our cultural courses are offered on a bi-annual basis.
SLA106H Polish for Beginners I
The course is aimed at a wide range of students with a general interest in Polish but no prior knowledge. A communicative based approach will be used throughout the course, where all four skills (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) will be practised, with the main emphasis on speaking. Students will engage in interactive language activities, participating in group and pair work according to a syllabus based on systematic grammatical progression.SLA116H Polish for Beginners II
A continuation of SLA106H. The course is aimed at a wide range of students with a general interest in Polish but no prior knowledge. A communicative based approach will be used throughout the course, where all four skills (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) will be practised, with the main emphasis on speaking. Students will engage in interactive language activities, participating in group and pair work according to a syllabus based on systematic grammatical progression.SLA216H Introduction to Polish Culture
Major cultural traditions, historical processes, myths, and figures that have shaped and redefined Polish civilization and national identity are problematized and contextualized with the help of works of literature, history, philosophy, political science, music, visual and performing arts. Readings in English (also available in Polish). (Offered in alternate years)SLA226H Film and Ethics: Polish Cinema
The Polish School in cinema, its predecessors and successors, their artistic accomplishments, major theoretical and thematic concerns, and their place on the map of European cinema. Films of Ford, Wajda, Polanski, Konwicki, Borowczyk, Has, Kawalerowicz, Zanussi, Kieslowski, and of the new generation of Polish film makers. Films and discussions in English. (Offered every three years)SLA236H Polish Culture in 10 images (Online)
In this course we examine the most important aspects of Polish historical experience and cultural identity by looking at ten iconic images from Polish culture. These images may include a historical painting by Matejko, a photo of the Solidarity strikes in 1980, a screenshot from a Wajda film, or a literary passage from a Gombrowicz novel. Apart from serving as an introduction to Polish cultural studies, this course provides students with analytical tools to read diverse cultural texts. This is a blended course combining online modules with four on-site discussion meetings per semester.SLA266H War and Culture
>Poland and Europe 1914-1945. As we commemorate the centenary of the outbrake of WWI, this cataclysmic event that launched the 20th century and was followed by another total war soon after still defines our view of the world and understanding of it. It may be time now to look anew at how various forms of expression, including literature, film, theatre, painting and sculpture produced during the two wars, between them or many decades later deal with the extreme and everyday experiences, with shattered worlds of individuals, ethnicities, and nations.SLA306H Conversations-Inspirations: Polish for Communication
Through a series of thematic modules based on everyday communication we will work on developing your Polish language skills in the four basic areas of linguistic competency: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The course is based on a communicative-functional approach to language, which means that even though you will regularly be exposed to new grammatical structures, our focus will be the practical use of language in real-life situations.
SLA336H: Let’s Talk! Practical Polish
This course further develops students’ familiarity with Polish in the four areas of linguistic competency: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. You will regularly read Polish articles and texts, become familiar with contemporary Polish news and opinions, and engage in discussions concerning current events and issues in Polish culture, politics, and society. You will also learn to express yourself in a variety of writing styles.
SLA346H Communism and Culture
In this ourse we probes the paradoxes of politics, culture and everyday life by analyzing the complex coexistence of art and literature with changing cultural politics in a totalitarian and post-totalitarian system, with simplistic ideology and political dissent, and with prevailing myths about the West and the East. Readings in English (Polish for majors).
The amazing cultural transformation of Poland in the last twenty five years within a changing Europe. The impact of these changes on Poland's social consciousness and perception of identity, history, and nationhood. The most recent literature, fine arts, music, and popular culture. Readings in English
Study of drama as a literary and theatrical genre in its thematic and formal diversity in Polish literature from the 16th to the 20th century is combined with investigations of the role of the theatre as cultural institution in different periods of Polish history. Readings in English (in Polish for students in the major program). Offered every three years.SLA427H Polish Culture for the Curious
The fourth year seminar whose specific topic is decided depending on the needs of the students and the interests of guest and permanent instructors.SLA456H Escape from Utopia: European Science Fiction
In this course we will examine European science fiction, focusing on literature, drama, and film produced in Central and Eastern Europe. Shaped by the experience of two world wars, two totalitarianisms, and several revolutions, continental sci-fi is known for its radical and uncompromising thought experiments and daring aesthetics. We will discuss works by H.G. Wells, Evgenii Zamiatin, Karel Čapek, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, Fritz Lang, Stanisław Lem, Andrei Tarkovsky, Jacek Dukaj, and others, looking at what happens when science, technology and social engineering push individuals beyond their human limits.
SLA 1304H STAGING GOD, MAN AND HISTORY: POLISH DRAMA
Combines theoretical investigations of drama, theatre, and performance in relation to three grand narratives in Polish and European modernity. Investigates intersections of dramatic texts, theatre and performance theory, and theatre productions in the context of modern discourses on metaphysics, identity, and historiosophy. Readings in English.SLA 1308H CRITICAL PARADIGMS IN POLISH CULTURE
Critical study of major literary and cultural paradigms, starting with the revaluations of the often misunderstood Sarmatian culture and the memory of it in the 19th century, moving on to the Romantic paradigm and its (dis)continuations, and ending with the strongest counter-proposals for Polish mentality, identity, and self-identifications (such as the Enlightenment, Positivism, and the Inter-war struggles for modernization).SLA 1312H HISTORY ON ENDLESS TRIAL: MODERNISM IN POLISH CULTURE (Łukasz Wodzyński)
A study of the development of the modernist cultural formation in Poland from the fin de siècle to the aftermath of WWII. Discussions about terminological wars and conflicting understandings of the culture of modernism are aided by important literary works of Polish modernism, literary theory, philosophy, and concepts developed by sociology and political science.SLA 1315H INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS, CULTURE, AND LITERATURE: TRAJECTORIES IN POLAND (Tamara Trojanowska)
The trajectories of Poland's intellectual and cultural traditions provide some useful examples of national and international transfers of ideas between historians, political thinkers, writers, and artists. Each time the course is offered, it focuses on a selected few concepts, such as tolerance and freedom, Polish republicanism and liberalism, the idea of a nation, Polish religious thought, the role of intelligentsia and intellectual institutions, backwardness and modernization and culture wars of recent years. Our readings span from the 15 th to the 21 st centuries and pair political thinkers and historians with writers and political and cultural theoreticians across the centuries in order to make their ideas engage with and illuminate each other. Pawel Wlodkowic’s 15 th century ideas on freedom may be thus read together with Adam Mickiewicz's 19 th century Books or Bolesław Prus’s journalism, and with Józef Tischner’s 20 th-century reflection on post-1989 condition of freedom. Our analysis of religious ideas can see the 16 th-century poems of Mikołaj Sęp-Szarzyński converse with Piotr Skarga’s fierce counter-reformation and Czesław Miłosz’s or Leszek Kołakowski’s essays. Such readings are placed within the theoretical discussions regarding intellectual history (e.g. Dominick LaCapra), and relations between such history and culture.SLA 1320H POSTCOMMUNISM - POSTCOLONIALISM - POSTDEPENDENCY (Łukasz Wodzyński)
The swift collapse of communist regimes across Central and Eastern Europe came as a surprise to both their opponents and political clients. While in 1989 Francis Fukuyama speculated in his most famous – and most derided – essay about the “end of history,” the historian Tony Judt saw in this chain of events a final release of the region’s histories from “what once seemed permanent and somehow inevitable” but now taking on “a more transient air.” Did the Central and Eastern European nations escape history (into vaguely defined, Western-style “normalcy”), or have now properly “entered it” as independent subjects? What social and cultural mechanisms shape the relationship to the communist and pre-communist past and visions of the – still largely indeterminate – future in the globalized world for these nations? How are we to think about the years following the rapid transformation from communism to neoliberal capitalism and more or less liberal democracy in countries like Poland, Ukraine, South Slavic Republics, and Russia? How did culture mediate the experience of this political, social, and economic revolution? Finally, what is the condition of post-communism? When does it begin? When – if at all – can it be said to have ended?
In this course we will try to answer these and similar questions while examining the literature and cinema of the so called “post-communist” cultures. Our methodology will build on theoretical apparatus and concepts developed by postcolonial (and post-dependency) studies, such as imperialism, cultural hegemony, relationships of power and dependency, (sub)alter(n)ity, hybridity, liminality, and others. We will discuss and critically evaluate the applicability of this methodology to the Central and Eastern European (in the case of Russia, also Eurasian) context, focusing on various strategies of identity (re)construction adopted by the authors and filmmakers amid the chaos of competing social, historical, and cultural narratives that erupted with the collapse of the Soviet Empire and its satellites.
SLA1330H European Science Fiction and the Re-Enchantment of Modernity (Łukasz Wodzyński)
In this course we will examine European science fiction, focusing on literature, drama, and film produced in Central and Eastern Europe. Shaped by the experience of two world wars, two totalitarianisms, and several revolutions, continental sci-fi is known for its radical and uncompromising thought experiments and daring aesthetics. We will discuss works by H.G. Wells, Evgenii Zamiatin, Karel Čapek, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, Fritz Lang, Stanisław Lem, Andrei Tarkovsky, Jacek Dukaj, and others against the cultural and theoretical background of modernity. We will base our methodology on the theoretical framework developed by science fiction studies, yet our focus in the course will be various strategies of re-enchanting the modern world that European authors deploy in their texts.