History of Eastern Europe: From 1900 to the Present

History 173C

Fall 2014
219 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MWF 2-3P

This course will examine the recent history of Eastern Europe, the band of countries and peoples stretching from the Baltics to the Balkans between Germany and Russia. Arguably this region exemplifies more about the good and the bad of the past century than any other. Liberated in 1918 from centuries of foreign rule, it was to become a showcase of democracy, of transplanting western institutions to a "backward" area. Instead, roads were opened to other experiments: authoritarianism, fascism, Nazi imperialism; and then, after World War II, Communism, both of Stalinist and reforming varieties. Each episode was portrayed as bearing ultimate answers to problems local and global: what does each teach us? Can a society based in principles of equality work? Remarkable is the persistence of ethnic nationalism, and its power to undermine every policy until its basic demands seem met. East Europe bequeathed humanity uplifting concepts such as "Living in Truth," and  "We are the People!" but also sobering ideas and events like national self-determination, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and of course the Berlin Wall. One enduring achievement of East Europeans – intellectuals but also manual workers – was to make evident the meaning of human rights. Given the frequent drama of the region's recent past the course makes extensive use of cinematic and literary portrayals.

Course Books

Return to Diversity by Rothschild, Joseph Oxford. ISBN: 9780195334753 Required
The Magic Lantern by Ash, Timothy Garton Knopf Doubleday. ISBN: 9780679740483 Required
The Captive Mind by Milosz, Czeslaw Knopf Doubleday. ISBN: 9780679728566 Required
Under a Cruel Star by Kovaly, Heda Margolius Holmes and Meier. ISBN: 9780841913776 Required
Bridge on the Drina by Andric, Ivo Chicago. ISBN: 9780226020457 Required