Intelligentsia and Peasantry in Modern East European History: Social Processes and Cultural Constructions (19th-20th Centuries)

Eastern Europe
Course Description: 

This course aims at the exploration of the two key categories of social, cultural, and intellectual history of modern Eastern Europe in comparative and transnational perspectives. The interconnected formation and transformation of the concepts of “intelligentsia” and “peasantry” will be analyzed in the broader context of Romanov, Habsburg and Soviet imperial spaces, with special attention to Polish and Russian cultural and intellectual traditions. Most of case studies will focus our discussion on the East European culturally polycentric borderlands, primarily (but not exclusively) on the regions that nowadays constitute Ukraine. In particular, the course will deal with the specific features of the nineteenth-century East European peasant-oriented populism, its legacy under Soviet regime, and its impact on the shaping of modern social and national identities in the region.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course shall help students to build an expertise on the specificity of cultural and social processes and interactions in the contested borderland areas of Eastern Europe in late imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet periods. The course participants will practice various new approaches and concepts of the cultural and social history in order to analyze critically and deconstruct several key concepts of modern East European history (intelligentsia and peasants, culture and identity, nation-building, narod, populism, borderland etc.).


Every student is expected:

  • to make one presentation based on additional readings,
  • to write two critical reviews of readings (two pages long),
  • and to submit at the end of the course a research paper (or, alternatively, to take an “open book” exam). 

The final grade will be based on the assessment of

class participation – 20 % of final grade;

seminar presentation – 20 % of final grade; 

two critical reviews of mandatory readings – 20 % of final grade;

research paper / or “open book” exam - 40% of final grade.