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Polish Academic Information Center's
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The University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4160

@ Throughout, click this on this symbol to see the source of the quoted information.

Polish Studies at The University of Virginia

The Institution

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University sustains the ideal of developing, through education, leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation. The University offers forty-eight bachelor's degrees in forty-six fields, ninety-four master's degrees in sixty-four fields, six educational specialist degrees, two first-professional degrees (law and medicine), and fifty-five doctoral degrees in fifty-four fields.

Polish Study Courses

HIEU 218 Poland and East Central Europe Since 1918 @
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This lecture course will address the problems of East Central Europe (ECE) in the 20th century. We shall focus primarily on Poland but her neighbors will also be considered. The differences and similarities between the ECE nations will be noted, while we explore the vicissitudes of modern Polish history. As far as our periodization is concerned, the most crucial dates are: 1918 (when the Poles and some other ECE people regained independence); 1939-45 (when the Nazis and the Soviets struggled for the mastery of ECE); and 1989 (when the nations of ECE won their freedom again). In addition, the times of crisis in post-war Poland will be explored: 1945-47, 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1980-81. During the inter-war period the Poles and others in ECE struggled not only against foreign enemies but also had to face enormous political, ethnic, social, and economic problems. These became exacerbated following the outbreak of the Second World War. A major watershed in Polish and ECE history, the war brought about large-scale deportation and mass slaughter, most notably the Holocaust and the extermination of the traditional Polish elite in particular. Unlike most other East Central Europeans, the people of Poland had a dubious distinction of falling victim to both totalitarian dictators: Hitler and Stalin. The latter won the struggle for power and imposed Communism on Poland and her neighbors following the war. His system endured for nearly half a century only to collapse in 1989 in Poland and then across the rest of ECE.

Poland-Related Courses

HIEU 213 The Jews of Poland from 1600 to the Present @
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is a comprehensive survey of the history ?political, social, religious, and cultural ?of Polish Jews from the creation of The Council of Four Lands in 1580 until the attenuated post-communist revival of the Polish Jewish community. On the eve of the Second World War, Poland contained the largest Jewish community in Europe, with a population of nearly three and a half million. More than ninety percent of Polish Jews perished in the Shoah (the Holocaust). Now only a remnant of Polish Jewry survives. Although the Shoah casts a long shadow on the history of the Jews in Poland and elsewhere in Europe, the Polish Jewish experience before ?and even after ?the Shoah is a dynamic and poignant drama of tradition and transformation, division and integration, dreams and nightmares. This course will explore the unfolding of this drama though various themes, including Jewish life in early modern Poland, the birth of Hasidism, traditional Jewish life in the Jewish hamlet (shtetl), gender relations, modern Jewish political formations, the emergence of Yiddish literature, the destruction of Polish Jewry, and the reestablishment of Jewish life in Poland after the Shoah. This course is intended to acquaint students with the study of Polish Jewish history and assumes no prior training in the subject. Many of the reading assignments will come from primary sources ?diaries, memoirs, novels, short stories, and folktales ?and in class we will also examine Jewish music and visual arts.
GETR 354/HIEU 353 Jewish Culture and History in Eastern Europe 1400-1515 @
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is a comprehensive examination of the culture and history of East European Jewry from 1750 to 1939. If what it meant to be Jewish in Poland, Russian, and the rest of Eastern Europe was still self-evident in the middle of the eighteenth century, Jewish self-definition, both individually and collectively, became afterwards increasingly contingent and open-ended. Before its destruction in the Shoah (Holocaust), Jewish life in Eastern Europe was characterized by a plethora of emerging possibilities. This course explores this vibrant and dynamic process of change and self-definition. It traces the emergence of new forms of Jewish experience, and it shows their unfolding in a series of lively and poignant dramas of tradition and transformation, division and integration, dreams and nightmares. The course seeks to grasp this world through the lenses of culture and history, and to explore the different ways in which these disciplines illuminate the past. The course will discuss various themes, including the birth of Hasidism, traditional Jewish life in the Jewish hamlet (shtetl), gender relations, modern Jewish political formations, the emergence of modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature, Jewish urbanization, and Jewish life in the interwar period.
COURSE INSTRUCTOR: Grossman, J & Finder, G
LAW3 629 Comparative Constitutional Law: Contemporary Developments @
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Prerequisite: Constitutional Law. Fall course in Constitutionalism: History and Jurisprudence is useful but not required. Examines the writing of new constitutions and other steps taken toward constitutional democracy. Focuses on new constitutional developments, seeking to set new constitutions and other fundamental institutions in the context of the norms and precedents found in the established democracies and in regional and international documents. Considers, from a comparative perspective, important issues such as the drafting of bills of rights, restraints on executive power, and judicial review. Emphasizes case studies of developments in specific countries, such as Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, South Africa and others.
COURSE INSTRUCTOR: surname, first initial


Chodakiewicz, Marek J. Associate Professor of History under the auspices of the Kosciuszko Chair, University of Virginia
Ph.D. Columbia University, 2001
Phone: (434) 982-2752 / Fax: (434) 982-2739 / E-Mail:
MAJOR INTERESTS: Western Civilization, Polish History, US History after 1865, World History, Modern European History, East-Central European History, Russian and Soviet History, Jewish History in Poland and Russia, Balkan History, German History, Nationalism, Communism, Fascism, Conservatism, Civil War in Spain, Second World War, Cold War, Post-1989 Transformations in East Europe
  • After the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World War 11, East European Monographs, 2003
Finder, Gabriel Adjunct Professor, Department of History, University of Virginia @
Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1997
Phone: (434) 243-7745 / Fax: (434) 924-7891 / E-Mail:
MAJOR INTERESTS: Interested in how survivors reassembled their lives in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust.
  • Revenge and Reconciliation: The Moral Topograph of Polish Jewry after the Holocaust, 1945-1950. (Book in progress)
  • Jewish Prisoner Labor in Warsaw after the Ghetto Uprising, 1943-1944, Polin (forthcoming)
Grossman, Jeffrey Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, University of Virginia @ @
Ph.D. University of Texas, 1992
Phone: (434) 924-6693 / Fax: (434) 924-6700 / E-Mail:
MAJOR INTERESTS: Trained in comparative literature, likes to explore problems of literary theory, cultural change and transmission.
  • The Discourse on Yiddish in German Literature from the Enlightenment to the Second Empire, Camden House division of Boydell and Brewer/University of Rochester Press, 2000

META-FACULTY - Faculty who have studied and/or taught at Polish institutions of higher education

Derewenda, Zygmunt S. Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Virginia @
Ph.D. University of Lodz , Poland, 1981
Phone: (434) 243-6842 / Fax: (434) 982-1616 / E-Mail:
MAJOR INTERESTS: Protein structure and function; macromolecular crystallography; mechanisms of signaling by small GTPases; protein-protein interactions.
Minor, Wladek Professor, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia @ @
Ph.D. Warsaw, Poland, 1978
Phone: (434) 982-2752 / Fax: (434) 982-2739 / E-Mail:
MAJOR INTERESTS: Structure-function relation in protein, proteins and virus X-ray crystallography, and X-ray instrumentation.

Poland-related Resources

  • Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies Inaugurated in 1998, the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies at the Miller Center supports a noted scholar of Polish history conducting research at the Center while teaching at the University of Virginia. The mission of the Kosciuszko Chair is to encourage the study and dissemination of research on Polish history, government, and contemporary problems in the context of U.S.-Polish relations. The Kosciuszko Chair hopes to keep Americans informed of Poland's immediate geopolitical environment and of its past. The Chair is named in honor of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish general who fought with the colonists in the American Revolution and was a friend of Thomas Jefferson. @

  • Miller Center of Public affair: The Miller Center studies not only political events in the United States but also three international programs that focus on the former Soviet Union, U.S.-China relations, and Poland. @ Miller Center of Public Affairs Polish Movie Collection Catalogue @

  • The Wolf Lewkowicz collection Wolf Lewkowicz Collection -- Yiddish letters (with English translations) written by a Polish Jew to his 11-year-old American nephew from 1922 to 1939. They provide insight into Jewish life in pre-war Poland. @

Archival Scroll

Last updated 2/17/03


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