Slavic 39C: Images of Eastern Europe “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Ukraine, Russia, Poland”

TT 3:30-5, 233 Dwinelle. Instructor: David Frick.

Units: 3 Satisfies L&S International Studies OR Arts & Literature breadth requirement.

Instructor’s email:

Ukraine. In one of today’s many world crises, a European border thought established, in part after WWII, in part after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, is now being contested—that between the Republic of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Ukraine—the word means “borderlands”—was for much of its history claimed as the large eastern or western outpost of first Polish and then Russian states. Its capital Kiev (Kyiv) figures as the heart and foundation of Ukrainian, Belarusan, and Russian national narratives.

The goal of the course will be to understand how history, and arguments from history, are shaping the current strife over the borders of contemporary Europe. To try to understand this, we will begin with recent reporting from both sides of the conflict, as well as views from outside. Then we will go back to the founding of Kievan Rus’, its destruction in the 1240 Mongol invasion, its incorporation thereafter into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, its eighteenth-century division between the Russian and Hapsburg Empires, its modern borders created as part of the post-WWII Soviet Union, and its independence as the Republic of Ukraine since 1991.

Readings will be mostly short texts, taken from contemporary journalism, Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish literature, and historiography.

Course requirements: attendance and active class participation (25% of the final grade), two in-class midterms (20% each), and a final essay/project (35%).

Prerequisites: none