Allison Gilbert to attend the Political Communications MA Program at Goldsmiths, University of London.

11:15 AM

Warm and hearty congratulations to Allison Gilbert on her acceptance to Goldsmith's M.A. Program in Political Communications!  []  Allison's senior thesis was on the relationship of folklore and nationalism in Poland, where she has been teaching English since her graduation.

Photo:  A.G. "standing in front of Zamek Książ - a castle owned by a Downton Abbey-esque German family legacy.  During the war Hitler and his buddies took it over and began building underground tunnels way deep underneath the castle but still no one knows for what purpose."

Here is an except from Allison's Senior Thesis: 
After the final partitioning of Poland in 1795, public education was beginning to experience a significant decline.  Curriculas were adjusted to better suit “Germanizing” or “Russification” efforts through eliminating certain topics like Polish history, Polish literature, Polish language, Polish instructors and educators were replaced and more often than not, universities were entirely shut down.  The response to this was the steady development of Polish education, an underground effort placing its educators and universities at the forefront.  The focus of this effort was to extend formal education to as many peasant children as practicable, both in order to sustain the quality educations once provided in public schools and to strengthen the Polish cause to preserve national and ethnic identity in response to pro-Russian, Prussian, and German campaigns and efforts.  These schools were underground establishments and organizations, often secretly run out of family homes, or were groups that masqueraded as clubs for hobbies such as beekeeping.  The main component of the curricula, if not the only component, was Polish literature.  Of course, Polish language was taught and spoken in homes and at Polish schools, but literature provided a compelling, effective, and safer way for Poles to exchange ideas and sentiments throughout and across the partitions through symbols, characters, and plotlines presented in literature.  In addition, literature gave license to discuss daily life practices, prisons, hospitals, homes and other institutional features, which gave rise to a shared sense of morals, values, beliefs, and practices that were and are indicative of “Polishness.”

The decision to focus on literature that was from and belonged to the Polish people equipped them not only with a new means of communication but also with a sense of pride in their history and people.  In the face of heavy censorship and oppression, Poles tended to retreat from public life and escape to the political-literary world provided by Romantic poets.  Readers could experience victories, a sense of fulfillment, and a sense of sovereignty; they could cultivate “…the inner spiritual life, where aesthetic and moral values hold sway over all manifestations of reality.”  Every effort made by the Russians and Prussians to eradicate Polish culture led to an increase in the number of Polish schools and students.  A large number of progressive Poles joined the ever-growing cause, recognizing the power of cultural activism as a safer, more effective alternative to overt radical political action and terrorism.  According to Polish historian Norman Davies, in the Russian partition, “…the typical Polish ‘patriot’ of the turn of the century was not a revolutionary with a revolver in his pocket, but the young lady of good family with a textbook under her shawl…  Polish schoolteachers formed the backbone of the national movements.”  To this day, many Poles will argue that this sentiment is still the case, that Polish national identity is rooted in a sense of rebelliousness that was fostered by the insurrection and those who were inspired by it.

Polish education as a tool for preservation of identity and subversive organizing is now an instinctive response for Poles during times of oppression.  During World War II Poland was met with a military, socio-political machine that was designed to systematically eliminate Polish culture, only this time Polish teachers and leaders were either killed, fled, or relocated to prisons and camps throughout Central Europe.  These new attacks on Polishness were met with a revival of their old methods of resistance.  Polish books were printed and distributed, university curricula were suitably adjusted, and children were gathered in Polish schools throughout occupied cities, forest refuges, émigré groups abroad, and even in concentration camps.  The strength and success of the insurrectionary tradition is reflected not in immediate political outcomes or the number of active insurrectionists, but rather an unyielding dedication, to the necessary attitude, conspiratorial habits, and unwavering commitment to the transfer of Polish literature from generation to generation.

Goldsmiths is is getting a promising and dedicated scholar and we could not be happier for both of them.

Here are some of the other graduate institutions that our students are now attending:
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
New School for Social Research
Georgetown University
New York University
City University of New York Graduate Center
University of California, Santa Cruz
Columbia University
Duke University
Goldsmiths University (UK)

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