General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Romanticism and Popular Culture
Language English
Module lecturer prof. UAM dr hab. Wojciech Hamerski
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Professor
Faculty Faculty of Polish and Classical Philology
Semester 2023/2024 (summer)
Duration 15
USOS code 03-AP-RPC


Module aim (aims)

The aim of the course is to familiarize students both with masterpieces of Polish Romanticism (put in a comparative context) and multiple references to the influential Romantic movement in later literature, films etc. with a special emphasis laid on popular culture.
The relation between Romanticism and popular culture can be examined on two levels. First of all, the course addresses the question of how popular culture originated in the early 19th century (during the Romantic period) and how it was developing later on. Another objective is to explore the influence of Romantic and post-Romantic aesthetics and ideas on contemporary culture: literature, theatre, films.
Literature of the Romantic period is, as Maria Janion, a renowned scholar, stated, “the basic paradigm of modern Polish culture”. It is said that in each Polish home there are at least three books: The Bible, Adam Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz and Henryk Sienkiewicz’s The Trilogy. It is believed that the epic poem by Mickiewicz fully embodies Polishness, and the popular series of historical novels by Sienkiewicz presents a strongly romanticised view of the past. The proposed course will help to understand the importance of the Romantic movement to Polish culture.
Romanticism has profoundly affected modern Polish culture (including popular culture), but the attitude of the greatest Romantic poets towards pop culture was ambiguous. Socio-political and industrial revolutions at the turn of the 19th century significantly expanded the circle of readers (the rise of bourgeois culture) and improved technologies of transmitting ideas, opinions, styles and fashions (e.g. railways, rotary printing press). Due to historical circumstances, however, Polish postpartition literature was guided primarily by the aesthetics of the sublime, supported the ideal of the national bard, and had little interest in art as a form of entertainment. Since then the Romantic paradigm has been repeatedly confirmed or undermined: the aim of the course is to present Romanticism as the subject of permanent dispute.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)


Week 1: Introduction. The expansion of pop culture in the 19th century.
Week 2: The ballad as a screenplay (Adam Mickiewicz’s Świteź and the animated short film The Lost town of Świteź by Kamil Polak vs Samuel T. Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the animated short film The Albatross by Paul Bush).
Week 3: Why so serious? The Forefathers’ Eve by Adam Mickiewicz in the pop culture nexus (the drama and the modern stage performance by Radosław Rychcik).
Week 4: Edgar Allan Poe and the Aesthetics of Gothic Fiction (The Fall of House of Usher and Zánik domu Usherú By Jan Švankmajer and Vincent by Tim Burton)
Week 5: The “Polish Poe” on track: Stefan Grabiński’s railway stories (The Motion Demon)
Week 6: The Gothic in outer space. The Cathedral by Jacek Dukaj (and animated short film by Tomasz Bagiński)
Week 7: Cultural recycling in Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels (Mickiewicz, Poe, Tennyson, Sienkiewicz and others)
Week: 8: Summary

Reading list