IS FRENCH PHILOLOGY READY TO FACE THE CHALLENGES OF TODAY?
The article comprises two sections: in Section One I sketch out the history and the evolution of French philology, understood both as an academic discipline and as an academic/administrative unit within Polish universities, officially known as Departments of French (Philology). In Section Two I reflect on my personal experience of that evolution, as it has affected my professional choices and academic career.
Both meanings of “French philology” (discipline and institution) are rooted in German academic tradition to which the entire system of Polish humanities is indebted. Until the 1990s, French philology was synonymous with French studies, understood as the teaching and the academic study of French language and literature. Like other humanities departments in Poland, French philology departments inevitably functioned under the pressure of current political forces. Yet, French philologists in Poland never lost touch with the world’s evolving humanities or the changing scholarly paradigms.
Following the radical political transformation of 1989, traditional French philology in Poland opened up to a whole new range of scholarly fields (literatures and cultures of francophone countries), theories (postmodern and postcolonial studies), and approaches (interdisciplinary scholarship). Thus Polish romanists have joined the international scholarly community. In the article, I document these processes, reflecting on my own university career: I started off as a traditional scholar doing research in the literature of French Middle Ages, then moved on to studying Canadian and American Francophone cultures, to eventually become involved in interdisciplinary studies at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw.