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Michał J. Wilczewski

Assistant Professor of Instruction; Affiliate, Department of History

Michał J. Wilczewski, Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) is a historian of modern East-Central Europe who specializes in Poland and Polish culture. At Northwestern, he regularly teaches Polish language, literature, culture, and history courses. He also serves as the faculty advisor of the Polish American Student Alliance (PASA) and is a Faculty Associate for Willard Residential College.

A historian of everyday life, he is interested in telling the stories of ordinary people and marginalized populations in their quest to gain recognition and access to state power. His current book project entitled Broken Land: Everyday Life and the Reconstruction of the Polish Countryside, 1914-1939, traces the daily activities of rural people in interwar Poland as they rebuilt the countryside and helped build the fledgling state. Focusing on farmers’ everyday experiences—in their homes, fields, schoolhouses, and community centers—Broken Land explains how interwar Poland’s rural dwellers experienced the transition from being imperial subjects to becoming citizens of a nation-state following the Great War.

More recently, he has begun researching a new project called Sex in the Time of Sanacja: Debates about Morality in Interwar Poland that examines the changing discourses concerning pornography, marriage and the family, homosexuality, nudism, and prostitution in the interwar Polish state. He traces the liberalization of attitudes toward sexuality in the country at the same time that Poland’s political arena was turning increasingly right-wing and asks how a relaxation of laws and ideas toward such issues could happen at all.

In addition to his research, he is at work on three pedagogy-related projects. The first is in partnership with linguists at the University of Białystok to create Polish-language teaching materials. The second is a Polish Native Speaker recording project to enhance Polish language students’ listening comprehension. And the last is the Poland in Chicago Digital Mapping Project that maps Polish and Polish-American spaces in the Chicagoland area.

Wilczewski holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an MA in history from Michigan State University, and a BA in sociology from La Salle University. He is the recipient of a 2013-2014 Fulbright IIE Student Research Grant. Prior to arriving at Northwestern, he worked as a program assistant for Polish Studies and taught Polish history, language, and literature courses at UIC. In addition to teaching and researching, he has also done some academic translation work and is the current book review editor for history, the social sciences, and diaspora studies for The Polish Review.


“Obcy we własnym domu: Konflikty pokoleniowe i walka o,,wiejskiego człowieka” w międzywojennej Polsce” (“Strangers in Our Own Home: Generational Tensions and the Battle for the Rural Mind and Body in Interwar Poland,”) in Centrum światów jest tutaj: Galicja jako punkt odniesień edited by Tomasz Pudłocki and Jadwiga Sawicka (Rzeszów, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Rzeszowskiego, 2021), 49-67.