Jack J. Hutchens
University of Florida
3326B Turlington Hall
PO Box 117342
Gainesville, FL 32611
The Polish Studies Program at the University of Florida was founded in 2004 as a joint undertaking of the Center for European Studies and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages. The goal of the program is the development of an innovative curriculum of courses in Polish language and culture in order to provide students with strong area skills over a broad range of topics within Polish Studies. The program places a special emphasis on the culture and society of contemporary Poland.
From the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 to its entry into the European Union as one of ten new member states in 2004, Poland’s geopolitical position has shifted radically. Contested conformity to Soviet dominance in the region has been replaced by the enjoyment of the rights and the obligation to uphold the duties accompanying the country’s status of important new European political and economic partner.
The country’s cultural landscape has undergone no less significant a transformation. From a preoccupation with questions of national struggle against the communist state there has been a shift in emphasis in Polish culture to a broad range of topics rooted in the new socioeconomic order – popular culture; artists and the free market; and Poland’s diverse legacy of ethnic, regional, and gender identities.
Finally, the achievement of cultural and academic freedom has given rise to the project of rethinking and rewriting Polish national history, particularly that of the turbulent nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The curriculum of the UF Polish Studies Program has been designed to reflect this sea change in Polish culture and society.