This course will provide an historical overview of the lands, peoples, and states of Eastern Europe from 1815 to the present. Given the great flux in borders, sovereignties, and the ethnic profile of the region during this period, we will have to continually refine or redefine our concept of Eastern Europe, an area that roughly encompasses the band of countries stretching from today's Poland to the Balkans. In keeping with a convention that is not entirely free of political overtones, I will divide the region into two parts, East Central Europe and Southeastern Europe (the Balkans).
The nationalisms and rivalries of the nations of Eastern Europe are a product of the nineteenth century. Contemporaries were as troubled by their implications as we are today, so studying these problems in their genesis has immediate relevance. By the end of the course, you will no longer be able to say that these are "distant peoples of whom we know nothing."
This course is an introduction to the history of Southeastern Europe since the 1790s. Each week's work will examine a key episode in Balkan affairs through a combination of lectures, readings, and discussion of associated issues. The class will not follow the history of any one Balkan country comprehensively. Instead, we will direct our attention to relevant developments which address questions like these:
1. How does Balkan history relate to European history?
2. What is a nation, a nationality, an ethnic group?
3. What has nationalism meant for the Balkans?
- What brought about the Ukrainian nation?
- The decadence of Polish rule in Ukraine; Russian and Austrian imperial rule; Jewish and Polish urban society; Romanticism and modern nationalism; the Bolshevik Revolution and its Ukrainian counterparts; Soviet modernization and terror; Nazi occupation, the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing; the end of the Soviet Union; problems of post-Soviet rule, the Orange Revolution and prospects for democracy.