CC: Meet the Slavs: Intro To Slavic Studies. Who are the Slavs and why study them?  Taken together, Slavic speaking countries occupy a sixth part of the globe and have played substantial and often decisive role in world history, science and culture (suffice it to name Stalin or Pope John Paul II, Copernicus or Mendeleev, Chopin or Tolstoy). Objectively, Slavic is a linguistic category transformed in the course of the 19th century into an ethno-cultural one.  The leading role in this transformation was played by Slavic Studies - the principal site of producing and negotiating Slavic identities. This interdisciplinary course draws on a variety of media (scholarly texts, film, fiction, political cartoons, medieval chronicles) to introduce students to the history of Slavic Studies and the cultures of Eastern Europe. Although we will discuss all of the Slavic cultures at various points throughout the semester, we will focus on three (one "new" and two former) countries - Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia - to more closely examine their development as representatives of East, West, and South Slavic peoples, sampling in the process the dynamics of the integrative / separatist tendencies among the Slavs. Special attention will be paid to nation building (e.g., Macedonia vis-à-vis its continuous contestation by neighbors) and nation breaking (e.g., the peaceful "divorce" of Czechoslovakia vs. the violent destruction of Yugoslavia). We will also discuss non-Slavic peoples (Jews, Roma, Turks, Hungarians and Romanians) whose history is closely related to that of the Slavs. The Roma, one of the most underprivileged nations today with long history of persecution, will be the focus of separate discussion. Other topics to be addressed are: the political divide between East and West; empires and colonized peoples; religious traditions; the rise of national cultures; insurrections and revolutions; communist regimes; and the political aftermath following the fall of the Soviet Union.




As a ConnCourse, this course makes connections across the liberal arts.

Enrollment Limit

Enrollment limited to 28 students.