Skip to main content

Research Colloquium | Kamila Budrowska (Białystok) New Perspectives on Literary Censorship in Communist Poland (1944-1990)

Kamila Budrowska, currently visiting researcher at the Graduate School, will present her research on literary censorship in communist Poland as part of the joint research colloquium.

Thursday, 20 October at 14:30 in Room 017 at Altes Finanzamt (IOS/ GS), Landshuter Str. 4

This lecture outlines the forms of censorship and how they functioned in communistera Poland. Drawing on my extensive research on literary censorship, the lecture will offer insight into the broader context relating both to the study of censorship today – including methodological and conceptual issues – and also to how censorship institutions and practices developed under communism – including the transnational influence of the Soviet Glavlit and the legal basis for Polish state censorship. A key aspect of the lecture explores how censorship policy and practices shifted over time, becoming variously more and less stringent. I show that key factors in this were: chronological, revealing the historical and political contingency of censorship; thematic, with banned and restricted topics changing; and personal, with writers treated differently according to their perceived standing. Here I will focus on two literary fields: how writers and the authorities approached the Second World War and the Holocaust – with censors even declaring the latter thematically “obsolete” by 1949 – and on women’s literature, which faced severe restrictions in some cases. I will also address problems related to the censorship of Polish contemporary literature, Polish classics (including the important question of re-working the canon), and translations from foreign languages. In conclusion, I will consider the prospects for new perspectives in censorship studies, that could draw on transnational studies, as well as postcolonial and minority narrative perspectives.

Kamila Budrowska is professor at the Faculty of Philology at Białystok University and head of the Department of Philological Studies. She is the author of over a hundred publications on literary censorship in the years 1945-1989.

When? 20 October, 14:30

Where? Room 017, IOS/ GS, Altes Finanzamt; Landshuter Str. 4