2016-11-09 12:14 


The Research Center for Postcolonial and Posttotalitarian Studies
in cooperation with
The Institute of Journalism and Social Communication
The Institute of Slavic Studies

invite scholars to take part in the international conference


to be held in Wrocław
at The Faculty of Philology, University of Wrocław
on 1-2 June 2017


In January 1977 the first issue of “Zapis” (“Record”) – a Polish literary and cultural magazine independent from the communist censorship – was published. It was created by some of the most eminent Polish writers who were not allowed to publish by the communist and authoritarian government. The appearance of “Zapis” in Poland resulted in an emergence of similar initiatives which revived the system, the spirit of culture, and gave young intelligentsia courage. “Zapis” opened a new era in the history of Polish thought and free literature. It was co-created by Jerzy Andrzejewski, Stanislaw Barańczak, Jacek Bochenski, Kazimierz Brandys, Tomasz Burek, Marek Nowakowski, Barbara Toruńczyk, Wikror Woroszylski, and many other writers, as well as intellectuals associated with the Workers’ Defence Committee (KOR), which was formed in the summer of 1976 in order to save people persecuted by the communist authorities. Aside from KOR, Poland had other groups of intellectuals and workers proposing new political, social, and cultural solutions; thus breaking the monopoly of the communist state. These events coincided with the creation of Charter 77 in Prague, since the invasion of Czechoslovakia the first free initiative demanding the freedom of Czechs and Slovaks. In Hungary similar initiatives and groups of openly protesting people had already worked officially, though persecuted, since 1976, fitting in the development of The Helsinki Committees for Human Rights, also signed by the communist state. In the countries of the Soviet Union, in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia the Helsinki movement grew slowly, brutally throttled by the authorities by sending activists to prisons and labor camps. Many artists and intellectuals paid with their lives for the courage to speak up the truth, hundreds of others were persecuted. Despite the repressions, new and louder groups of artists, intellectuals, and workers manifesting disapproval of authoritarianism and a thirst for freedom and self-determination were formed, and noticed in the democratic world. Representatives of the national emigrations, some of whom tried to work together, gave important contribution to the support of the resistance movements against the political violence. They also supported antiauthoritarian movements identified with the pro-independence movements – politically, organizationally, and materially.

The rise of the Polish “Solidarity” in 1980 brought changes which cause the collapse of the totalitarian communist system. However, after almost 10 years of the uncertain consequences of the social resistance, authoritarianism in Central and Eastern Europe officially surrendered. In 1991 the Soviet Union was dissolved. It is known, however, that the effects of communism are still being felt in Central and Eastern Europe and in the world. They have had an impact not only on the economy of the past quarter-century, but are also still linked to the mentality, law, education, and political programs. Literature (both fiction and nonfiction) and art, as areas that quickly managed to free themselves from the poisonous influence of the Soviet colonialism having experienced the development of national identities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, are still debating on this phenomenon. It has been forty years since the time when Polish writers openly signed the works published in “Zapis”, it has been the same period of time since Czech writers and intellectuals published under their own names the program of reconstruction of the world of values, ruined by the “fraternal” invasion. In 1985 Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus died in a concentration camp because he disagreed with the Soviet lie, Czech dissident and writer Vaclav Havel was in prison, many Russian writers were expelled from the country, as were the writers in Romania, Hungary, and East Germany. After the proclamation of martial law in Poland, hundreds of writers and intellectuals were interned. A lot of this is already known, but not all. Moreover, the fate and work of independent writers in authoritarian Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, the former Yugoslavia and in many countries belonging to the Soviet Union have not yet been discussed in Poland and abroad. Historians still reveal new facts, but there are also fabrications and manipulations in their research. Image of the dissident past became the subject of dispute.

The aim of the conference is to familiarize and, if possible, show this historical matter not only for anniversary reasons. It seems that our times make us repeat questions that had been asked by the founding fathers of the dissident movement in Central and Eastern Europe, writers and intellectuals opposing the organized system of violence. As organizers we do not intend to specify the exact programming framework or methodological scope of the debate. We would like to invite not only researchers, but also those associated with the dissident past of Central and Eastern Europe. We encourage you to take part in a discussion over what has happened with the legacy of the anti-communist resistance.

The program committee would like you to focus on the following issues:

1. The state of knowledge on the underground literary and journalistic activity between 1976 and 1991 in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. History of independent literature and culture as an integral part of the national history.
2. The fate of underground writers and intellectuals; the reception of their work since 1989 in CEE.
3. Disputes about the importance of underground literature between 1977 and 2016.
4. Assessment of the dissident past from the point of view of contemporary literature. Changes in the dissident iconography over the years. Legal, cultural, and moral aspects of vetting in CEE.
5. Differences in functioning; value of the dissident literature between 1977 and 1991 in CEE.
6. Literary and cultural journals in CEE. Publishing movement and its significance.
7. Emigration as an alternative space of independent culture.
8. School and civic education versus native dissidentism in CEE.
9. Independent media in the fight against the state monopoly: Radio “Solidarity”, TV “Solidarity”, underground music and art. Alternative forms of independent movements in CEE.
10. Cultural and political diversity; Geopolitics and geopoetics of the phenomena of the dissident culture in CEE.
11. Postcolonial perspective in the historical understanding of underground culture between 1977 and1991.


Presenters are required to submit abstracts of unpublished papers in Polish and English (max. 250 words) with key words (5 in Polish in English) and a short biographical note by January, 15 2017.

All applicants will be notified about the selection of participants by February, 15 2017.

Conference languages: English, Polish, Czech, Russian, Slovak, Ukrainian.

Conference fee: 250 PLN/ 60 EUR (does not include hotel accommodation; information about the possible accommodation and the bank account number for payment of the conference fee will be sent together with notification about the selection of participants).

All correspondence, including submission of proposals, must be addressed to:
Scientific and organizing committee:
prof. dr. habil. Bogusław Bakuła
dr. habil. Agnieszka Matusiak, prof. UWr
dr. habil. Elżbieta Tyszkowska-Kasprzak
Dr. Roman Wróblewski
Dr. Dorota Żygadło-Czopnik
Secretaries: Mgr. Aniela Radecka, Mgr. Marcin Gaczkowski

Below application form for download:

Wydział Filologiczny Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

The Faculty of Letters actively cooperates with science, education and cultural institutions in Poland, and supports a variety of educational, research and cultural incentives

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