CONFERENCE: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the challenges of his era: achievements, historical context, legacy.

Anna Mazurkiewicz's picture
Call for Papers
October 27, 2016 to October 29, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, European History / Studies, Military History, Modern European History / Studies

International conference at the University of Gdansk (Poland)

Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817) was called many names by his contemporaries. Thomas Jefferson christened him „as pure as son of liberty as I have ever known”. The Daily Advertiser of August 21, 1797 titled Kosciuszko a „Defender of Human Rights” while the French consul in the U.S. referred to him as „a martyr to freedom”. Already then Kosciuszko’s image was not one-dimensional though. While Napoleon I named him as the „hero of the North”, Catherine the Great called him „the beast”. The Chief of the 1794 Uprising has intrigued and inspired not only Poles ever since the turbulent turn of the 18th to 19th centuries irreversibly changed both Europe and North America. Undoubtedly, up until now Kosciuszko remains one of the most important and most recognizable national heroes – both in Poland and in the United States.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s lifetime span was dominated by the turbulent events of the era; the French Revolution followed by the Napoleonic rule and the successful American Revolution in which he readily participated. In regards to his homeland, Kosciuszko’s activities  encompass the period from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth final attempts at reforms to its partitions followed by its ultimate demise. Accordingly, this conference’s main focus shall be the period between Kosciuszko’s enrollment in the Knights’ School in Warsaw  and his decision to reject the Tsar’s offer to join the Russians in the creation of the puppet state called the Kingdom of Poland. Consequently, the fifty years (1765-1815) shall constitute the conference’s main chronological focus.

While focusing on Kosciuszko – the man and his era - the conference organizers wish to initiate discussions on the most important events and people of the time as well. We hope that some new facts and interpretations related to Kosciuszko’s life and the 1794 Uprising as well as the challenges of the era will be revealed and discussed thus enriching the contemporary historiography. How relevant shall we find the hundred-year-old debate between the Polish historians Tadeusz Korzon and Szymon Askenazy on Kosciuszko and Napoleon, Jan Henryk Dabrowski and prince Jozef Poniatowski? Moreover, we welcome papers on the contemporary appraisals of Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s complex and multi-faceted legacy both in Poland and abroad. We invite submissions from historians, both art and military historians, experts on literature as well as from scholars of other disciplines who would like to address the above mentioned themes.

In particular, we wish to encourage submissions for the following thematic sessions:

  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko – facts and myths, tradition and historical memory;
  • Kosciuszko Uprising
    • in art and literature,
    • in the light of both Polish and foreign historiography (inter alia: Lithuanian, Byelorussian, Ukrainian, Latvian, Russian, German, French, American);
  • The role of the individual at the turning points in history (e.g. in Poland: Stanislaw August Poniatowski, Kazimierz Pulaski, Jan Henryk Dabrowski, prince Jozef Poniatowski; and worldwide: Catherine II, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and others);
  • Key political events during the critical period in the Polish history (partitions, Duchy of Warsaw) as well as in general history (the creation of the United States, the fall of the ancien régime in Europe, Napoleonic era);
  • European and American diplomacy and the Polish problem at the turn of the 18th to 19th centuries;
  • Crucial military campaigns 1765-1815 – skirmishes, battles, wars;
  • Central social problems during this time (changes in the social and economic structure as well as in the mentality and consciousness of the people);
  • Cultural changes during the revolutionary period (e.g. educational changes, the impact of Enlightenment).

DATES:  October 27 (Thursday) – 29 (Saturday) 2016.

SITE: University of Gdansk – main campus: Wita Stwosza street 55, 80-952 Gdansk, Poland

LANGUAGES: Polish, English, German, Russian.

PUBLICATION: The conference papers will be published in 2017 thus commemorating Kosciuszko’s 200th death anniversary. All papers submitted for publication will be subject to review. Only positively evaluated papers will be published.

SUBMISSION PROCESS: By July 31, 2016 all prospective participants  should submit the paper title with an abstract (not more than 500 words) as well as a short biographical note (100 words) bearing contact information. The two files, with the name of the presenter included in the name of the file, should be sent via e-mail: The paper acceptance confirmations will be sent out by August 15th.

CONFERENCE FEE: The conference fee is 300 Polish zloty, or 75 euro, due by September 30th, 2016. The money must be transferred to the following bank account (IBAN): PL 59 1240 1271 1111 0010 4368 2415 owned by the University of Gdansk. The bank’s SWIFT code is: PKO PPL PW. When making the payment please add a comment: „KH-20-16”. The conference fee covers the costs of conference materials, banquet, catering during the breaks and the sightseeing tour.

TAVEL AND ACCOMODATION: Hotel and travel information and advice will be provided upon request. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

Contact Info: 

Conference Organizing Committee:

Dr. Arkadiusz Janicki - Associate Professor; Chair, Institute of History, University of Gdansk

Dr. Anna Mazurkiewicz - Assistant Professor, University of Gdansk

Conference Secretariat

Wirginia Weglinska, M.A. –  general conference matters, correspondence in English

Marta Urszula Dziedzic, M.A.  – correspondence in Russian

Dr. Dariusz Kaczor, Associate Professor – correspondence in German