Slavic 158: Czesław Miłosz’s Twentieth-Century: Literature and History

TuTh 2-3:30, Dwinelle 6307. Instructor: David Frick.

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Historical Studies or Social & Behavioral Sciences breadth requirement.

In this course we will examine the literature and history of twentieth-century Poland largely through the prism of the poetry and prose of Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004). The life and works of this self-styled “last citizen of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania”—a man with direct experience of the fall of the Russian Empire, the creation of the Soviet Union and the Polish Second Republic, the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust, the creation of the Polish People’s Republic and exile from it, the reestablishment of a democratic Polish Republic and return to it—will be central in our readings and discussions.

Some background lectures on historical context, in-class discussion and close reading of literary texts.

Requirements: Reading, class attendance, participation in discussion, three essays focusing on close readings of literary texts.


Czesław Miłosz, New and Collected Poems, 1931–2001, New York, 2003. ISBN 0060514485.

Czesław Miłosz, Native Realm, New York, 2002. ISBN 0374528306.

Czesław Miłosz, The Captive Mind, New York, 1990. ISBN 0679728562.

Prerequisites:  None.  Course and readings are in English.  No knowledge of Polish is required.