Sandcastles and Tragic Insight: Cultural Innovation, National Identity, and Cosmopolitan Aspirations in Interwar Poland


Dissertation Fellowships in East European Studies


Department of History


This project examines the transformation of Polish literary culture between 1918 and 1939 to characterize modernist innovation on Europe’s cultural periphery. Part I focuses on aesthetic innovation in the aftermath of national independence in 1918. It examines how Polish modernists fought to loosen the traditional bond between Polish literature and the nation and how their awareness of their marginality in Europe influenced, enriched, and limited this process. Part II explores how their aesthetics, philosophies, and relationship to Poland and Europe changed during the continent-wide political crisis of the 1930s. Polish-German cultural contacts receive special attention, and the analysis is contextualized with respect to interwar European and Polish sociopolitical developments.