MA in English Tracks

The first track, “Hasidism – History and Culture,” is devoted to the social and cultural history of a major Jewish popular mystical movement, which originated in Eastern Europe and saw its heyday in nineteenth-century Poland. The track’s coursework is crafted by Prof. Marcin Wodziński and Dr. Wojciech Tworek. Prof. Wodziński is a seasoned scholar whose research into social history, demography, and geography has repeatedly broken new ground in Hasidic and Haskalah studies. He has lectured extensively around the world. His Historical Atlas of Hasidism was awarded the Jewish Book Award in 2019. Prof. Wodziński’s courses will deal with the social history and historical geography of Hasidism, Hasidic-Haskalah encounters, and Hasidism and Digital Humanities. Tworek is an emerging voice in the field, with a monograph on the mystical teachings of Chabad published by SUNY in 2019, and a number of articles in leading Jewish studies journals. His courses will deal with Hasidic mystical doctrines and literatures, Hasidic and neo-Hasidic stories, and Hasidic performance.

The second track, “Yiddish Culture,” will explore the history and theories of Yiddish literature and culture in Eastern Europe. This track is directed by Dr. Karolina Szymaniak and Prof. Joanna Degler (Lisek), both accomplished authors, translators, and teachers of world reputation. Szymaniak’s book on Rachel Auerbach was awarded the 2016 Polityka Prize for outstanding historical works. Her other publications in leading academic journals concern the Yiddish avant-garde, Yiddish literary criticism, and more. Degler’s 2019 monograph Kol isze is a pioneering study of Yiddish women’s writing. Both Szymaniak and Degler have taught extensively at various Yiddish language and culture programmes. Szymaniak’s courses will concern twentieth century Yiddish literature, Yiddish literary criticism and Yiddish-Polish literary encounters and their discontents. Lisek will offer courses on Yiddish poetry and gender aspects of Yiddish literature.

The third track, “Polin/Poland,” focuses on the social and political history of Polish Jews in the 19th and the 20th centuries. The goal of this track is to offer students deep and integrated insight into Polish Jewish history in the above-mentioned timespan, transgressing the usual fields of research specialization by integrating pre-1939, Holocaust and post-Holocaust periods and by focusing on the problems of continuity and discontinuity in modern Polish Jewish history. This track is developed by Dr. Kamil Kijek, a leading social and political historian of Polish Jewry. The English edition of his enthusiastically received book Children of Modernism, originally in Polish, is currently in preparation for publication. He was also involved in the creation of the exhibition in the Polin Museum in Warsaw. Kijek will teach the political history of Eastern European Jews pre- and post-Shoah.

These three tracks will be offered interchangeably, two tracks each year. The “Hasidism” and “Yiddish” tracks will be open in the 2023/24 academic year. In the following academic year, one of these tracks will be replaced by the “Polin/Poland” track, giving each student the opportunity to take courses in all three tracks of our MA program.

The Applied Heritage courses will combine theoretical and practical aspects of Jewish heritage preservation in contemporary Poland. These courses are developed by Prof. Marcin Wodziński and Dr. Katarzyna Liszka in collaboration with Ms. Helise Lieberman and the Taube Foundation for the Revival of Jewish Life in Poland. Taube Department faculty will help students explore the theoretical aspects of Jewish heritage preservation, while the Taube Foundation will provide them with boots-on-the-ground experience. Prof. Wodziński, former head historian of the Polin Museum in Warsaw and a scholar of Hebrew epigraphy, will teach classes on museums and Jewish cemeteries. Dr. Liszka, author of an important study on post-Holocaust memory, will lecture on concepts of heritage, memory, and commemoration. Ms. Lieberman, the executive director of the Taube Center, will lead classes and workshops on the preservation, renewal, and use of Jewish heritage in Eastern Europe. These courses will include field excursions to sites and institutions in Poland and East-Central Europe (Berlin, Prague, Kraków, Warsaw, all nearby), as well as meetings and workshops with activists involved in heritage preservation.