Studies in Polish Language and Literature

by Marta Wojtkowska-Maksymik (Volume editor) Magdalena Zawisławska (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 182 Pages


The book offers eight case studies, covering selected problems and works from Renaissance up to the present day. Each chapter draws on a literary text(s) or problems, examining its historical context, as well as its Polish reception and presence in contemporary (pop)culture. The volume delineates a dual perspective, combining original readings of key texts with discussions of their relationship to contemporary theories of literary and linguistic studies, and important phenomena in Polish history.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • People
  • Changes in the Image of Women and the Perception of Their Role in 16th-Century Poland (Marta Wojtkowska-Maksymik)
  • The Active Look: “The Poetics of the Gaze” in Polish Modernist Novels: Dzieje grzechu, Ozimina and Nietota (Katarzyna Muszyńska)
  • Places
  • Lviv: An Outline of the City Portrait (Alina Molisak)
  • Problems
  • Between Words and Their Senses: Knowledge-Generating Activities and Problems with Their Linguistic Categorisation (Marcin Będkowski)
  • “Never Stop Crossing the Bridge”: Metaphors for Literary Translation (Marta Falkowska)
  • Lem and the Tradition of Gentry Tale (Magdalena Derwojedowa)
  • The Us–Them Opposition in Stories by Sapkowski and Lem (Magdalena Zawisławska)
  • Word-Formations and Struggles with Identity and Otherness: On the Material of Compound Words in Joanna Bator’s Novels (Iwona Burkacka)
  • Index
  • Series Index

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Marta Wojtkowska-Maksymik*

Changes in the Image of Women and the Perception of Their Role in 16th-Century Poland

Abstract: The article includes a summative discussion of fragments from four texts written and published in the 16th century (On Economy or Household by Jan Seklucjan, Books on the Upbringing of Children by Erazm Gliczner, Life of an Honest Man by Mikołaj Rej, A Mirror for Christian Ladies by Marcin Czechowic) by authors representing Lutherans (Seklucjan, Gliczner), Calvinists (Rej) and Arians (Czechowic). Of particular interest are female role models and the duties of a Christian woman, whose main aim is not only to play certain social roles, but also to strive for salvation.

Key Words: woman, Renaissance, Protestantism, matrimony, female duties

1. Introduction

The beginnings and development of the Reformation in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth resulted in an increased interest in women’s issues, in particular the subject of women’s responsibilities at home and in church, identity, marriage, and religious education.1 For the first time in the history of Polish literature, women, especially virtuous, beautiful, pious and good wives and daughters, became independent heroines in the following literary texts, often dedicated to women and published for their use: Oeconomia albo Gospodarstwo (On Economy or Household, 1546) by Jan ←9 | 10→Seklucjan (1510/1515–78), Książki o wychowaniu dzieci (Books on the Upbringing of Children, 1558) by Erazm Gliczner (1535–1603), Żywot człowieka poczciwego (Life of an Honest Man, 1567/68) by Mikołaj Rej (1505–69), Zwierściadłko panieniek chrystyjańskich (A Mirror for Christian Ladies, 1582) by Marcin Czechowic (1532–1613). This paper will focus on a discussion and analysis of these texts. Among the authors we find diverse confessional backgrounds: Lutherans (Seklucjan, Gliczner), a Calvinist (Rej) and an Arian (Czechowic).

The above-mentioned texts can be associated with various phases of the Reformation in Poland. On Economy represents an early stage of Lutheranism in the Duchy of Prussia (constituting a fief of Poland since 1525). Books is also a Lutheran text but written under slightly different conditions, when Lutherans had to contend with the growing power of Calvinism; notably, Gliczner converted to Calvinism a year after writing his treatise. Rej’s The Life is a Calvinist work, published after the split in the Calvinist congregation in Kraków and the establishment of the Polish Brethren (1562–63), though it was addressed to a wide audience not necessarily practicing Calvinism. Czechowic belonged to the Polish Brethren, founded during the reign of Stefan Batory. From the end of the 1570s, actions against Arians intensified. The attack on Fausto Sozzini and the burning of his book collection, taking place in Kraków in 1598, represented a culmination of these actions.

The rhetorical strategy used by the authors of the texts under discussion should be considered in response to Philip Melanchthon’s proposal De officiis concionatoris (1529) to reconsider proper methods of instruction. He distinguished three types of teaching and instruction: genus didascalicum (to convey true doctrine), genus epitrepicum (to encourage faith) and genus pareneticum (to promote good morals). Genus epitrepicum and pareneticum used rhetorical means appropriate to the deliberative genre, and genus didascalicum also integrated methods appropriate to the epideictic genre.2 From this definition, Seklucjan’s On Economy, Gliczner’s ←10 | 11→Books and Rej’s The Life belong to genus pareneticum, and Czechowic’s The Mirror3 to genus mixtum, which will be discussed shortly.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (April)
Early Modern Literature 20th Literature Polish fantasy translation studies Polish Jews Modernist novels
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 182 pp., 10 fig. col., 12 fig. b/w, 4 tables.

Biographical notes

Marta Wojtkowska-Maksymik (Volume editor) Magdalena Zawisławska (Volume editor)

Marta Wojtkowska-Maksymik, Ph.D., is professor of literary history at the University of Warsaw, Poland. She carries out research about early modern Polish literature and 16th century translations. Magdalena Zawisławska, Ph.D., is professor of Polish philology at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Her research interests include lexical, cognitive, and comparative semantics, and metaphor in different types of discourse.


Title: Studies in Polish Language and Literature
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184 pages