Gdańsk/Danzig/Gedanum: A City Shaped—Histories and Cultures

History 100B

Spring 2017
183 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
TuTh 3:30-5
Class Number: 
  • This course has been cancelled.
  • In this course we will examine the fascinating, competing histories and cultures of the Baltic coast city known variously as Danzig and Gdańsk (among other spellings and forms).  Course materials will include close examination of maps of the city throughout its existence, coupled with lectures (with a few short readings) on the city’s history.  These will accompany us throughout the course.  The main body of reading material for students will be from novels (1959–2001), both German and Polish (in English translation), produced by citizens of the city; these works deal directly with the city’s topography, social, political, and religious divides, historical memory; and in the Polish case, the problem of inhabiting and making Polish, a city that, for centuries, had not been “ours” in any direct sense.  On the German side, we will read four of the novels of Danziger and Noble Prize winner for literature (1999), Günter Grass.  On the Polish side we will read three novels by writers of the next generation, sons of those who took up residence in the abandoned houses of post-war Danzig/Gdańsk:  Paweł Huelle and Stefan Chwin.  Both Polish writers, in different ways, could be said to be involved in a dialogue in their works with those of Günter Grass.  Class time will be spent with a series of maps covering the entire history of the city (of special interest will be the renaming of streets under the Nazis, in Communist Poland, and in post-Communist Poland), a few small texts plus lectures on the history of the city, and—the bulk of student reading—the twentieth century novels (Grass, Huelle, Chwin).