East European History in Context: Problems and Debates

Course Description: 

This course is intended to assist first year PhD students in preparing for the comprehensive exam by surveying a major regional field. It deals with the vast space of Eastern and East-Central Europe that became the borderland of the Romanov, Habsburg and Hohenzollern empires after the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The contiguity of these empires and their relationships to each other will be the focus of discussion more often than the domestic politics of Russia. In chronological terms the seminar ranges from the eighteenth century into the twentieth century, depending on the needs of the students. Each seminar discusses selected texts on topics such as mental mapping of the region, modernization, history of ideas, and empires and nationalism, and other topics of current interest in the profession.

Learning Outcomes: 

This course provides students with the opportunity to hone their critical knowledge of the historiography of Eastern Europe. A basic content literacy is assumed, and our goal is to work with students on the more advanced skills necessary to understand how received views of canonical topics have been formed, refined, and displaced over time within the profession. Students should emerge from the course with a stronger ability to orient their own research agendas vis-à-vis the larger historical profession, and for those topics unrelated to their own research, they will acquire useful resources in preparing their own teaching portfolios.


Presentations will be informal, with students taking turns as lead discussants for sections of the seminar. (40%) A final essay (circa 15 pp.), topic chosen in consultation with the instructors. (60%)