History of the Institute of Russian Studies, Warsaw University
history of Russian Studies as a degree programme at Warsaw University dates
back to 1950. At that time there was no established tradition of organized study
of the Russian language and culture in Warsaw to hand down. The new unit lacked
teaching staff, study programmes, a library or even its own premises. Nevertheless
the Division of Russian Studies commenced regular activity at the Warsaw University
Faculty of Humanities in the academic year 1950-1951. Fifty students were enrolled,
of whom 25 completed their studies. Among them were such prominent scholars
as Prof. Antoni Semczuk, Prof. Tadeusz Szyszko, Prof. Bohdan Galster (1931-1994)
and Tadeusz Kołakowski, Ph.D. (1929-1990).
The "prime mover" and first Head of the Department,
Prof. Antonina Obrębska-Jabłońska (1902-1994), did her best to engage a group
of excellent teachers: she herself taught Russian descriptive grammar, Prof.
Wiktor Jakubowski (1896-1973) commuted from Cracow to give lectures on the history
of Russian literature, Prof. Władysław Tomkiewicz lectured on the history of
Russia, Prof. Zofia Szmydt (1893-1977) and Prof. Janina Kulczycka-Saloni (1912-1988)
taught world literature and Prof. Zdzisław Libera (1913-1988) taught the history
of Polish literature. Prof. Marian Jakóbiec (1910-1998), commuting from Wrocław,
took the lectures in the history of Russian literature in 1952, to be replaced
several years later by Prof. Zbigniew Barański, another academic commuter from
the same town.
Thus, Russian studies at Warsaw University enjoyed from
the very beginning the influence of eminent humanists who contributed greatly
to the formation of its academic attitudes and approaches as well as the development
of didactic tasks and teaching methods.
The initial two-tiered study programme (3 years + 2
years of M.A. studies) followed the existing curricula of Polish philology and
Slavonic studies; the overall profile of teaching was distinctly humanistic.
A unified 4-year programme was introduced in 1951 and was followed a few years
later by the restoration of the 5-year curriculum and a change in the study
programme from a purely philological approach to a combination of philological
and teacher training content.
During the first year of its existence, the Division
of Russian Studies occupied a small room in the former Rector's office building
within the main University campus. The second year brought a move to another
room in the building which now houses the Institute of History. There the first
lecturers, and now professors and famous scholars, Andrzej Walicki, Andrzej
Bogusławki and Stanisław Karolak, met students during their office hours. In
1952 the Division was raised to departmental rank and the linguist Prof. Anatol
Mirowicz (1903-1996) became the Head. Prof. Mirowicz was later to gain recognition
as the scientific editor and co-author of the Great Russian-Polish Dictionary
(originally published in 1970, volumes 1-2), which has had several reprints
and updates, and its author became a legend of the Russian studies community
for many years. The Department transferred to a new spacious location at the
Faculty of Polish Philology and was able to set up its own library, with junior
academics buying and cataloguing books and also taking turns on duty in the
reading room. Within a short time the Department's teaching staff grew considerably
in number, with René Śliwowski and Bazyli Białokozowicz, now both professors,
taking up employment, though this still did not meet the demands. From 1953
onwards, students had multiple opportunities to attend lectures by specialists
from the Lomonosov University in Moscow and the then University of Leningrad
who quite frequently visited Warsaw University.
In 1954, the Department of Russian Studies was divided
into two new units: the Department of the Russian Language (with Prof. Anatol
Mirowicz as Head) and the Department of the History of Russian Literature, whose
head was initially Prof. Eleonora Stróżecka, and then, in 1956-1958, Prof. Samuel
Fiszman (1914-1999) (a specialist in the Romanticism period, and particularly
in the subject of Adam Mickiewicz's links with Russia), who later acquired professorial
chairs at American universities. In 1960 the Department moved again, this time
to a university building at 8 Oboźna Street. Two new organizational units were
established: the Extramural College in 1957 and the Evening Studies College
in 1965. The Department of the Soviet Literatures was formed in 1967.
In the 1960's, another group of committed university
teachers began work at the Department, including the linguists Wanda Zmarzer
and Mikołaj Timoszuk and the literature theorists Wiktor Skrunda and Alicja
Wołodźko-Butkiewicz, all now holding professorial positions.
The Institute of Russian Studies (initially known as
the Institute of Russian Philology) was established in 1968 following a merger
of the Department of the Russian Language, Department of the History of Russian
Literature, Department of the Soviet Literatures, Department of Ukrainian Philology
and Department of Belarussian Philology, all of which were then renamed Divisions.
Prof. Przemysław Zwoliński (linguist and specialist in all things Ukrainian)
was Director of the Institute in the years 1968-1971 and Prof. Maria Jeżowa
took over that post for the next four years. Other directors of the Institute
have included Prof. Tadeusz Szyszko and Prof. René Śliwowski. A great contribution
to the development of the Institute was also made by the linguist Prof. Albert
Bartoszewicz (1942-2001), who was Dean of the Faculty of Russian Studies and
Applied Linguistics from 1977 to 1987.
In 1969 the Institute received new headquarters far
away from the main campus, a building at 5/7 Smyczkowa Street which now houses
a hall of residence for our students. At present the Institute of Russian Studies
is located at 4 Szturmowa Street.
Graduates of the Institute include renowned scholars,
including Prof. Jerzy Faryno of the Institute of Slavonic Studies at the Polish
Academy of Sciences and Prof. Andrzej de Lazari, a historian of Russian philosophical
thought, the famous children's poet Danuta Wawiłow (1942-1999) and the translators
Eugenia Siemaszkiewicz and Ewa Rojewska-Olejarczuk.
Since it was founded, the Institute has belonged to
different Faculties at Warsaw University but was always granted considerable
independence as a research and teaching centre. It is currently a part of the
Faculty of Applied Linguistics and East Slavonic Studies.
At present the Institute is the largest Russian Studies
centre in Poland, employing 40 academic workers, including 11 professors, 3
post-doctoral scholars and 19 holders of the Ph.D degree in the Humanities.
The number of students, including foreigners, has now exceeded 580 (full-time
and extramural studies).
The Institute of Russian Studies collaborates with Moscow
State University, the People's Friendship University of Russia, also in Moscow,
Humboldt University in Berlin and the Universities of Tubingen and Sofia.
Thanks to a direct collaboration agreement between the
Institute of Russian Studies and A. Pushkin Memorial Russian Language Institute
in Moscow, our students can study in Moscow for a period of one or three months
each year. Students may also attend a course for a Proficiency Certificate in
Business Russian. The final examination, conducted by experts from Russia, is
also held on the Institute's premises.