POLISH 330 - Poland from the Medieval to the Modern
Fall 2020, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Polish (POLISH)
Department: LSA Slavic Languages & Literatures
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


For hundreds of years, the Polish-Lithuanian Republic was the largest country in Europe, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and encompassing most of what we now call Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. It was a paradoxical place. On the one hand, its social system was marked by an enormous gap between the rich and the poor, and the overwhelming majority of the population consisted of serfs deprived of legal rights and subjected to the unchecked authority of the nobility. On the other hand, the country was governed by an elected parliament and the “citizens” (a category exclusive to the nobility) enjoyed rights and liberties almost unheard of in pre-modern Europe. After the late 16th century, even the king was elected rather than hereditary. As the Reformation was tearing Europe apart with confessional violence, the Polish-Lithuanian Republic was a refuge of relative toleration and peace. But whatever the merits or weaknesses of this unusual state, it proved incapable of withstanding the rise of absolutist monarchies in the countries surrounding it. After decades of increasingly aggressive interference in the Republic’s internal affairs, Russia, Prussia, and Austria joined together in 1795 to wipe Poland entirely off the map. Rather than ending this particular story, however, the country’s partition only launched a new era, as a vibrant nationalist movement began a century-long struggle for the restoration of Polish independence. Meanwhile, the institutions of serfdom collapsed under the pressure of the industrial revolution, and the economy of the country began to slowly but steadily modernize. By the start of the 20th century, when this class comes to a close, it was clear that Poland would remain a presence in European affairs. The story of the new, modern Polish state that re-emerged in 1918 is continued in History 331, “Poland in the Modern World.”

Course Requirements:

All the readings for the class will be provided online; no additional expenses are required.

Intended Audience:

Everyone: no prior knowledge is required or expected.

Class Format:

All lectures will be recorded and made available on Canvas to be viewed at your convenience. There will be no high-stakes midterm or final exams; instead there will be quizzes attached to each set of lectures and readings. All the reading assignments will be posted online using the “Perusall” annotation system, which allows you to comment on the texts, read and respond to each other’s observations, and pose questions to classmates and the professor.


POLISH 330 - Poland from the Medieval to the Modern
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
Note: Instruction is remote and asynchronous. Enrolled students can view lectures on their own schedule.

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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