Political Modernities and Nation-Building in Central and Southeast Europe: Texts and Contexts

Term: 
Winter
Credits: 
4.0
Region: 
Central Europe
Southeastern Europe
Status: 
Elective
Course Description: 

The course combines an introduction to the major methodological developments in the history of political ideas with a thematic overview of the history of modern political thought in our region. It uses the excerpts, previously unavailable in English, provided by the collective project Regional Identity Discourses in Central and Southeast Europe (1775-1945). The collection of these texts makes it possible to analyze and compare ‘in depth’ various ideological traditions that were formative of the national discourses of Central and Southeast Europe. Exploring the input of the interpretative offers of modern ‘intellectual history’ in analyzing this material, the course hopes to problematize some of the key tenets of the ‘national’ historiographies about the uniqueness and incomparability of the respective cultures, at the same time pointing out the considerable situational and discursive cleavages among different projects of nation-building.

The course also aims at critically reconsidering the explanatory models of Nationalism Studies seeking to grasp the structure of the modern nationalist ideologies. Bringing together the more encompassing models of interpretation with a more context-sensitive approach of situating the texts in their cultural-political setting, the participants will develop their skills of doing comparative research in the East-Central European setting. 

Learning Outcomes: 

On the whole, the goal of the course is to develop a comprehensive and critical understanding of the various ideological manifestations of political modernity. Bringing together the more encompassing models of interpretation with a context-sensitive approach of situating the texts in their cultural-political setting, the participants will develop their skills of doing comparative research in the East-Central European setting based on textual and contextual analysis. Apart from the methodological gains, the main expected result of the course is providing an overview of East-European intellectual history between roughly 1860 and 1945, and developing a framework of interpreting nationalism, historiographical and literary canon-building, and the transformation of political culture in our region. The primary and secondary literature are selected to provide representative case studies for comparative purposes.

Assessment: 

Progress in the course will be evaluated as follows:

 

Seminar Presentation  20% of the overall grade

Term Paper               50%

Class Participation     30%

 

In each class, one of the students will be invited to present (in 10-15 minutes) a chosen original excerpt in the context of other available primary sources and also using the relevant secondary literature. The term paper is a fifteen-page piece on a topic suggested by the student and accepted by the instructor, preferably based on the comparative analysis of at least two national contexts. Class participation means regular attendance, in-class comments and questions related to the weekly topics and readings.