Barbarians at the Gate: Socialist University, Upward Mobility, and New Intelligentsia in Postwar Poland

Lecture | February 15 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 270 Stephens Hall

 Agata Zysiak, Visiting Scholar, Institute for Advanced Study

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)

After the social revolution brought on by WWII and a new political order, Polish society started on a path of intense reconstruction. A freshly established university in the "Polish Manchester" - Łódź - serves as a case study to examine postwar visions of academia, reforms of higher education, and upward mobility. The socialist university project was designed for the people and was a part of modernization, including electrification or nationalization. It was a bold effort to create a new intelligentsia and reform an elitist academy of higher education. However, emancipatory potential and modernization attempts are dominantly framed as the captivity of professors or the seduction of students, which in itself is an indicator of the project's ultimate failure.