[HIST 255] East/Central Europe: A Sense of Place

This is an interdisciplinary lecture-discussion course, surveying past and present realities that prevail in the geographical center of Europe, i.e. the lands inhabited primarily by Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians. Looking first at the environment, which had much to do with the markedly diverse peopling of the region, the course presents Central Europe’s earliest viable nation-states– Poland, Bohemia, and Hungary– and their promising development within Christian Europe. The impact of geography on national life is demonstrated, as the region became the object of expansionist desire to the surrounding empires: Ottoman, Habsburg, Romanov. As “the shatter-belt” between hostile alliances, Central Europe was forced to miss all or most of such crucial stages in European history as rational Enlightenment or a democracy-building Industrial Revolution. Owing in large part to shortsighted and tradition-bound leadership, the region’s peoples were easy prey to false ideologies, leading them into some of history’s most destructive wars and subjecting them to decades of spirit-killing oppression. Subsequent to the liberating year of 1989, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, and Slovaks are now in the midst of “nation-building”—along with their Balkan and Eastern European neighbors. It is a promising and confusing period. This course attempts to provide guidance for the region’s future course by presenting those aspects of its past that shaped the feeling, thinking, and behavior of its peoples.

Course Title

East/Central Europe: A Sense of Place

Course Code

HIST 255




Also listed as Interdisciplinary Studies 255.


Open to first-year students.

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