Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe comprises three sub-fields. Students may choose as a sub-field East-Central Europe from 1700 to the present. It covers the political, economic, social, and cultural history of the Habsburg Monarchy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Besides working up the general field, students may pursue their particular interests in a given country or region and in topics such as nationalism.

eastern europeStudents may choose as a sub-field Southeastern Europe from (at least) 1300 to the present. It covers the political, economic, social, and cultural history of the Ottoman Empire, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Besides working up the field as a whole, since it is a broad field, students, in consultation with the faculty, may refine it to suit their interests in a particular people, region, or time period.

Students may also choose as a sub-field East European Jewish history from 1500 to the present. It covers all aspects of scholarship on Jewish history and culture in the territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and its successor states.

Courses offered in recent years include Problems in East European History; Southeastern Europe: The Modern Balkans Through Film and Literature; The Cold War; East European Jewish History; and Ethnicity, Violence, and the State in Europe’s Borderlands. 

Core Faculty in the Program

  • Professor Eugene Avrutin (PhD. Michigan, 2004) is a Professor of modern European Jewish history and Tobor family scholar in the Program of Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (Cornell University Press, 2010). Avrutin has published articles on documentation practices, the concept of race, and religious toleration and neighborly coexistence in the East European borderlands. His new book, The Velizh Affair: The Story of Jews, Christians, and Murder in a Russian Border Town, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018. He is at work on two projects: a short book tentatively entitled Race in Modern Russia: Critical Perspectives, and a longer book on crime and criminality. His scholarship has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.
  • Professor Carol Symes (PhD. Harvard, 1999) is Associate Professor of History specializing in medieval Europe  within its Afro-Eurasian context. She is the founding executive editor of The Medieval Globe, the first academic journal to promote the globalized methodology and practice of medieval studies. Her own research interrogates the mediated transmission of knowledge, documentary cultures and their contexts, manuscript studies, and the history of communication technologies.
  • Professor Maria Todorova (Emerita) (PhD. Sofia, 1977) retired as Gutgsell Professor of History and specializes in the history of Eastern Europe in the modern period, with special emphasis on the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire. She is the author or editor of Post-Communist Nostalgia (Berghahn, 2010), Remembering Communism: Genres of Representation (SSRC, 2010), Bones of Contention: the Living Archive of Vasil Levski and the Making of Bulgaria's National Hero (Central European U Press, 2009), Balkan Identiities: Nation and Memory (New York U Press, 2004), Imagining the Balkans, (Oxford University Press, 1997, translated in 12 languages, and a second edition in 2009), Balkan Family Structure and the European Pattern: Demographic Developments in Ottoman Bulgaria (American U Press, 1993 and CEU Press, 2006), English Travelers' Accounts on the Balkans (16th-19th c.) (In Bulgarian, Sofia, 1987), England, Russia, and the Tanzimat (in Russian, Moscow, 1983; in Bulgarian, Sofia, 1980), Historians on History (in Bulgarian, Sofia, 1988), Selected Sources for Balkan History (in Bulgarian, Sofia, 1977), as well as edited volumes and numerous articles and essays on social and cultural history, historical demography, and historiography of the Balkans in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her current research revolves around problems of communism (of which she leads a major international project), as well as nationalism, especially the symbology of nationalism. Professor Todorova received her doctorate from the University of Sofia (1977). She holds honorary degrees from the European University Institute in Florence and Sofia University in Bulgaria.
    Other faculty with expertise in Eastern Europe
    • Donna Buchanan (School of Music: Musical southeastern Europe, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union (particularly Russia); nationalism in Russian and East European classical music; Mussorgsky; Shostakovich.)
    • David Cooper (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures: Czech, Slovak, and Russian literatures)
    • Richard Esbenshade (Hungarian history)
    • Michael Finke (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures: Russian literature; Chekhov; literature and medicine; literature and psychoanalysis; and aviation and popular culture)
    • George Gasyna (Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative and World Literature: Polish literature and theater; Nineteenth- and twentieth-century Polish and Russian émigré and exilic narratives; Joseph Conrad and Witold Gombrowicz)
    • Zsuzsa Gille (Department of Sociology: Environmental and economic sociology of Eastern Europe, especially Hungary; globalization; European Union)
    • Jessica Greenberg (Department of Anthropology)
    • Lilya Kaganovsky (Departments of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature: Soviet literature and film)
    • Diane Koenker (Department of History: Soviet Union, comparative labor and gender)
    • Peter B. Maggs (Law School: Russian law)
    • Harriet Murav (Departments of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature: Russian literature, cultural history, Jewish intellectual history)
    • John Randolph (Department of History: Imperial Russian intellectual and cultural history; pre-Petrine history)
    • Carol Skalnik Leff (Political Science: East European politics, especially the Czech Republic; Soviet and post-Soviet politics; comparative politics; nationalism and democratization)
    • Valeria Sobol (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures: 19th century Russian literature)
    • Mark Steinberg (Department of History: Russia, comparative labor, popular culture)
    • Richard Tempest (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures: Russian intellectual history

    Dissertations Completed in Eastern and Southeastern Europe since 1990

    • Kurt Treptow, Of Saints and Sinners: Native Resistance to Ottoman Expansion in Southeastern Europe, 1443-1481 (1995)
    • Maria Bucur, Disciplining the Future: Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania (1996)
    • Stephen Herzog, Negotiating Modernity: Cultural Reform in 1920s Hungary (2003)
    • Irina Ganaway, Writers of the Nation: Intellectual Identity in Bulgaria, 1939-1953 (2005)
    • Theodora Dragostinova, Between Two Motherlands: Struggles for Nationhood among the Greeks in Bulgaria, 1906-1949 (2005)
    • Cristofer Scarboro, Living Socialism: The Bulgarian Socialist Humanist Experiment (2007).
    • Fedja Buric, Becoming Mixed: Mixed Marriages during the Life and Death of Yugoslavia (2011)
    • Stefania Costache, At the End of Empire: Imperial Governance, Inter-imperial Rivalry and “Autonomy” in Wallachia and Moldavia, 1780s-1850s (2013)
    • Diana Georgescu, Ceauşescu’s Children:The Making and Unmaking of Romania’s Last Socialist Generation (1965-2010) (2014)
    • Jovana Babovic Entertaining the Yugoslav Capital: Culture, Urban Space, and Politics in Belgrade between the Two Wars (2014)
    • Pompilia Burcica, Amateur Theater in Historical Transylvania between the Two World Wars (2014)
    • Zsuzsa Magdo, The Socialist Sacred: Atheism, Religion, and Culture in Communist Romania, 1948-1989 (2015)
    • Anca Glont, Nihil Sine Carbo: Politics, Labor, and the Coal Industry in the Towns of the Jiu Valley, 1850-1999 (2015)
    • Veneta Ivanova, Occult Communism: Culture, Spirituality, and Science in Late Socialist Bulgaria (2016)
    • Milos Jovanovic, Bourgeois Balkan: world-building in Belgrade and Sofia, 1830-1912 (2016)
    • Stefan Peychev, The Nature of the Ottoman City: Water Management and Urban Space in Sofia (1380s-1910s), (2019)
    • Anca Mandru, "Socialism of Sentiment:" Culture, Progress and Community in the Early Romanian Left 1870-1914, (2019)
    • Ethan Larson, 'The New, Old Country:  the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Creation of a Yugoslav Diaspora 1914-1951', (2020)
    • Peter Wright, 'The Business of Solidarity:  Socialist Yugoslavia and Development Aid in Non-Aligned Africa (1954-1991)', (2020)
    • Marco Jaimes, The Unifying Habsburg Monarchy? Franz Joseph and the Bohemian Crownlands, 1867-1916, (2021)