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Instructor Class Description

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Gregor Thum
HSTEU 452
Seattle Campus

Eastern Europe Since 1918

Explores the history of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia from the end of World War I to the present.

Class description

This course serves as an introduction to the history of Eastern and East Central Europe during the 20th century. Particular attention will be paid to three larger themes: 1) the process of nation-state building in a region traditionally characterized by its ethnic heterogeneity, 2) the impact of the Second World War, including its history of genocide and forced migration, and 3) state socialism (communism) as an experience specific to this region. To make sure that students don’t get lost in the multitude of nations in Eastern Europe, the region’s history will be examined primarily through the lens of Poland,Czechoslovakia, and Ukraine.

Student learning goals

Gain a better understanding of the ways in which Eastern and East Central Europe differ from other parts of Europe.

To get an idea of the intricacies of nation-state building in a region traditionally characterized by transnational political structures and ethnic heterogeneity, and to understand why nation-states in such regions tended to engage in a policy of (forced) ethnic homogenization.

To understand what "socialism" and "communism" actually meant, and how these political concepts shaped the life and experiences of the people in Eastern Europe.

To learn how to read and discuss scholarly texts, and how to write a (small) analytical research paper with footnotes and a bibliography.

General method of instruction

The course is organized around lectures, readings and discussions, with a strong emphasis on discussion of the readings.

Recommended preparation

There are no specific prerequisites except for an interest in the course's themes and the willingness to spend the necessary time on reading assignments (3-4 hours weekly).

Class assignments and grading

Apart from preparing the reading assignments (20-40 pages for each class session) and engaging in the in-class discussions, students are expected to write a small research paper (10-12 pages) on a topic of their choice. Guidance will be given while students work on their papers. In addition to that, students are expected to answer 8-10 short unannounced quizzes about the current reading assignments (quiz questions will be given in advance). Since both the quizzes and the research paper require serious and steady work, there will be neither a midterm or final exam.

Grading will be based on the results of the research paper (40%) and the quizzes (the quiz with the lowest grade won't count) (40%).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Gregor Thum
Date: 09/29/2010