The Polish Writers' Union in Gomułka's Polish People's Republic, 1956-1970

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Iwona Skorbilowicz

Abstract

This study aims to analyse the specific context of changing cultural policies under WA‚adysA‚aw GomuA‚ka’s rule, providing a detailed analysis of the specificity and fluctuating nature of the relationship between literati and the Party-state from 1956 to 1970. This important period, is, in fact, underrsearched in existing scholarship. On the basis of a wide-range of previously unstudied archival sources, the thesis provides new evidence to demonstrate that the relationship between the regime and literary circles was, at least to some extent, symbiotic and, at times, mutually accommodating. It highlights and analyses various aspects of the relations between power and culture, offering new evidence to highlight their multifaceted nature and complexity in the aftermath of the Kremlin-initiated de-Stalinisation campaign across the Soviet bloc. Using the situation within the Polish Writers’ Union as its case study, the thesis demonstrates that, despite the repressive political system and the Party-state’s aim of exerting complete control over literary production, some writers and the Union of which they were members had agency and were able to affect the existing situation, obtain greater benefits, and, at times, even expand their agency and directly or indirectly contribute to political change. The thesis attempt to ascertain the degree of agency cultural figures had under the communist rule and analyse the ways they could exert it is the most original part of the thesis. The study further evaluates the levels of control over the Union and concludes that the Party-state often struggled fully to control not only the Union but even its own main tool of control, the Primary Party Organisation. The reduction in the regime’s control, following Stalin’s death, and the increasing levels of the writers’ agency had considerable repercussions in post-GomuA‚ka Poland. Finally, the dissertation provides evidence that continued protests, the emergence of an oppositional faction and demands for free speech in the 1960s, however indirectly, influenced later changes in the censorship system, the emergence of the SolidarnoA›Ä‡ movement and political change in Poland.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date31 Dec 2020