Polish Studies Newsletter

New release

Added on: 09.06.2021

Reassessing Communism. Concepts, Culture, and Society in Poland, 1944-1989

Publishing house::

The thirteen authors of this collective work undertook to articulate matter-of-fact critiques of the dominant narrative about communism in Poland while offering new analyses of the concept, and also examining the manifestations of anticommunism. Approaching communist ideas and practices, programs and their implementations, as an inseparable whole, they examine the issues of emancipation, upward social mobility, and changes in the cultural canon.

The authors refuse to treat communism in Poland in simplistic categories of totalitarianism, absolute evil and Soviet colonization, and similarly refuse to equate communism and fascism. Nor do they adopt the neoliberal view of communism as a project doomed to failure. While wholly exempt from nostalgia, these essays show that beyond oppression and bad governance, communism was also a regime in which people pursued a variety of goals and sincerely attempted to build a better world for themselves.

The book is interdisciplinary and applies the tools of social history, intellectual history, political philosophy, anthropology, literature, cultural studies, and gender studies to provide a nuanced view of the communist regimes in east-central Europe.

List of contents

Katarzyna Chmielewska, Agnieszka Mrozik, and Grzegorz Wołowiec: Introduction: Communism Studies in Central and Eastern Europe: A New Approach

Part One: Critiques of the Dominant Narrative

1. Grzegorz Wołowiec: The Red and the Brown: On the Nationalist Legitimation of Communism in Poland Once Again

2. Anna Artwińska: Communist (Auto)biographies: Teresa Torańska’s Them: Stalin’s Polish Puppets and the Contemporary Paradigms of Understanding the Past

Part Two: New Analyses of Communism

3. Katarzyna Chmielewska: Legitimation of Communism: To Build and to Demolish

4. Tomasz Żukowski: Eroticism and Power

5. Agnieszka Mrozik: “’Cause a Girl Is People”: Projects and Policies of Women’s Emancipation in Postwar Poland

6. Aránzazu Calderón Puerta: An Adventure in the Steelworks and in Mariensztat: Family and Emancipation of Women in 1950s Polish Cinema

7. Eliza Szybowicz: The “Adolescent Sphinx”: (Post-)Thaw Novels for Girls

8. Bartłomiej Starnawski: “Here I Stand, I Cannot Do Otherwise”: Around An Open Letter to the Party and the Notion of Revisionism in Discourse About the Political Opposition in 1960s Poland

9. Anna Sobieska: Socialist Education Ideals and Models of Patriotism: Some of the Problems of Polish Pedagogics and the Education Policy of the People’s Republic of Poland in the 1970s

Part Three: New Analyses of Anti-Communism

10. Anna Zawadzka: The Waning of Communism in the People’s Republic of Poland: The Case of Discourse on Intelligentsia

11. Paweł Rams: The Thought of Stanisław Brzozowski in Polish Academic Writing and Journalism in the Years 1945–1974: Currents, Parallels, Polemics

12. Kajetan Mojsak: Around Jerzy Andrzejewski’s Miazga, Kazimierz Brandys’ Nierzeczywistość, and Polish Leftist Thought of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s

13. Krzysztof Gajewski: Scheming as a Business: “Communism” in the Language of the 1980s Opposition; The Example of The Little Conspirator

List of Contributors


Year of publication:
Key words:
Added on:
9 June 2021; 20:40 (Mariola Wilczak)
Edited on:
9 June 2021; 20:44 (Mariola Wilczak)

See also

Literature studies

Gender, Generations, and Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond

Author/Editor: Anna Artwińska, Agnieszka Mrozik

Communism in twentieth-century Europe is predominantly narrated as a totalitarian movement and/or regime. This book aims to go beyond this narrative and provide an alternative framework to describe the communist past. This reframing is possible thanks to the concepts of generation and gender, which are used in the book as analytical categories in an intersectional overlap.


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E-Book (PDF) Availability:  Published ISBN:  978-90-04-42961-1 Publication Date:  31 Aug 2020 Hardback Availability:  Published ISBN:  978-90-04-42959-8 Publication Date:  03 Sep 2020

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