Rewriting Tolstoy – Poland 1945: War and Peace

Rewriting Tolstoy – Poland 1945: War and Peace

UW Polish Studies Endowment Committee invites you to a lecture Interhuman History: How Magdalena Grzebałkowska Rewrites the Aftermath of World War II in “Poland 1945: War and Peace” by Prof.  Beth Holmgren.

Magdalena Grzebałkowska, 48, is an award winning writer and a reporter for Gazeta Wyborcza daily. The book was a finalist to the 2016 Nike Polish literary award and won the Gazeta Wyborcza Reader’s Award. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Intro from Prof. Holmgren: Magdalena Grzebałkowska, an award-winning author of Polish reportaż — a fact-based genre in which writers exercise substantial creative license in their subject choices, plotting, style, and self-portrayal — has produced a 21st-century War and Peace strikingly different from and deliberately more disjointed than Lev Tolstoy’s great 19th-century novel. My talk introduces Grzebałkowska as one of the stars in Poland’s current publishing boom in reportaż. I explore how she collects and rewrites the experiences of not-so-ordinary eyewitnesses to the complex end and aftermath of World War II in a Poland with suddenly redrawn national borders. I compare Grzebałkowska’s subjects, plotting, and style with those of censored official accounts published by the newly established communist media in Poland and late 20th-century narratives of nationalist martyrdom reiterated by former enemies (Poles, Germans, Soviets). My talk ultimately poses the question of the artistic value and academic utility of reportaż vis-a-vis contemporary scholarly histories of the war.

Dr. Holmgren is a Professor of Polish and Russian Studies at the Duke Universityin Durham, NC, holds secondary appointments in Theater Studies and Gender/Sexuality/Feminist Studies and is a core faculty member in Duke’s Jewish Studies Program. She has published widely on Polish literature, theater, film, and interwar cabaret; Russian literature, women’s studies, and popular culture; and Polish and Russian performers on stage and screen in North America.

More: about Magdalena Grzebałkowska and the book, about Prof. Holmgren

This lecture is available at zoom at


Starts On

February 17, 2021 - 6:00 pm

Ends On

7:30 pm

Event Tags

Book, History, Lecture



United States