Thomas Gladsky

Thomas Gladsky

Thomas S. Gladsky is Byler Professor of English (Emeritus) at the University of Central Missouri. He also taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Budapest University where he directed a USIA program, Jagiellonian University (Senior Fulbright 1987-88), and the University of Rzeszow as Professor of American Literature. In addition, he served as Department Chair at Rockingham CC, Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Central Missouri and at Eastern Illinois University, and Dean of Academic Affairs at St. Mary’s College-Detroit. Gladsky is a former President of the Missouri Philological Society and the Polish American Historical Association, and the founder of the Illinois Philological Association. He has twice received the Oskar Halecki Award from the Polish American Historical Association for “important books on the Polish Experience in the United States” and the Mieczyslaw Haiman Award for “sustained contribution to the study of Poles in America.”

Professor Gladsky has authored more than fifty scholarly writings on new historicism and the American historical novel and on literary ethnicity with focus on the Polish experience in American letters, including Princes, Peasants, and Other Polish Selves: Ethnicity in American Literature (U Mass Press), Something of My Very Own to Say: American Women Writers of Polish Descent, T. Gladsky and R. Gladsky (East European Monographs), and Ethnicity, Culture, City: Polish Americans in the USA, 1870-1950, T. Gladsky and A.Walaszek (Oficyna Naukowa Warszawa). He has lectured and presented papers at universities and conferences throughout the United States and Europe not the least of which include numerous lectures at universities and colleges throughout Poland.

 

After thirty years, it is tempting to romanticize my first Fulbright experience at UMCS in 1981-82, by saying obligingly that all my Polish colleagues were helpful and collegial, that the students were industrious and hard-working, that the university was a model of organization and high-mindedness, that Poles were divinely inspired, and that I was a teacher-scholar extraordinaire with a profound sensitivity for the Polish experience. Hardly so. Academically, little occurred that year in the way of reading, writing, and teaching. Strikes, lockouts, martial law, post martial law depression, and a rather frantic struggle to survive took up everyone’s time. I was insufficiently acquainted with Polish history and culture, never quite understood the workings of the Institute, and spent too much time chasing rainbows and potatoes. The mysteries of Polish socialism baffled us daily – me, my courageous wife, Rita (emergency appendectomy), and our two little girls, Kristen and Jennifer who studied Polish at Catholic University. But we miss the compassion of that period and still prefer the old Poland in many ways. Would I have exchanged that year for a large pot of gold? Not a chance. Thirty years later, I see the faces of my students and my good friend Professor Lyra in the hall at the institute. I hear our too-good -to-be-true next door neighbors, the Rodkiewiczs, on Ulica Langiewicza. I walk the streets of Lublin and shiver in the mid afternoon winter dark waiting for a tram, and I watch people in the perplexing and tedious food lines. I hope my subsequent work represents a small payment in exchange for the life-enhancing experience my family had in Lublin in 1981-82.

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