The Slavs and Western Civilization

University of Michigan - Flint

History 393

Department of History
Winter l992
Instructor: Dr. Theodosia S. Robertson

Course Description:

The Slavic peoples and their participation in the culture of Europe is a vast field; this brief survey treats only a limited number of topics, beginning with the Slavs at a major transition point in western civilization: the close of antiquity and the beginning of medieval times. We will examine the relation of the Slavs to the Roman and Byzantine empires, their migrations and division, and the emergence of early Slavic states. Medieval times are emphasized as a period of significant political and cultural achievements among the Slavs. By the l5th century the histories of some Slavic peoples became entwined with other states and empires. Other Slavs were influenced by European movements of the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. We will consider the impact of romanticism and l9th century nationalism upon the Slavs and a look at some of the complexities and contradictions involved in the re-emergence of their national cultures. The course closes with a brief look at some of the patterns of Slavic migration, an important topic for those of Slavic descent, as well as an update on current political issues.

Texts and Materials:

No single text is adequate, several major surveys are currently out of print, and recent studies of the region are overtaken by the changes that continue since l989. Thus, one paperback has been selected for purchase. It concentrates on the modern period and is a useful reference after having done the readings for this course.
E. Garrison Walters, The Other Europe. Eastern Europe to 1945(Syracuse, 1988)
Hammond's Historical Atlas of the World (72pages) Packet of photocopies

Reserve Readings:

Schedule of Readings shows the assigned pages for each week's topic. Aside from Walters, they are found in these titles on reserve:
J. Bukowczyk, And My Children Did Not Know Me
F. Dvornik, The Slavs, Their Early History and Civilization
__________, The Slavs in European Civilization
O. Halecki, Borderlands of Western Civilization: A History of East Central Europe
D. Hoerder, Labor Migration in the Atlantic Economies
C. & B. Jelavich, The Balkans
D.S. Mirsky, Russia: a Social History
Spector & Ristelhueber, A History of the Balkan Peoples
O. Subtelny, Ukraine
D. Turnock, The Making of Eastern Europe from Earliest Times to 1815
F. Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples

Lecture Topics

  1. Introduction. Who are the Slavs? Lands & languages
    PACKET: maps for the Slavs
    Halecki: 3-11 (Geography & Ethnography)
    Walters: xi-xiii; 1-15; 110-131.
  2. Early Slavs; fall of the Roman empire; the Slavic migrations
    PACKET: Slavic Timeline
    Dvornik: Slavs: Early History, 3-45 (Origins & Migrations)
    Halecki: 12-24 (Slavs & Their Neighbors)
    Walters: 16-31
  3. First Slavic states, west and east: Great Moravia & Bulgaria
    Dvornik: Slavs: Early History, 80-102 (Moravia)
    Turnock: 87-90 (Moravia)
    Spector: 16-29 (Bulgaria)
    Turnock: 122-126 (Bulgaria)
  4. Kiev Rus and the Rise of Muscovy
    Mirsky: 31-56; 110-112; 121-179
    Dvornik: Slavs in European Civilization, 212-231; 259-279 (Muscovy)
    PACKET: Russian Primary Chronicle
    Sermon on Law & Grace
  5. Catch-up class; review and MIDTERM EXAM
  6. South Slavs to the Turkish Conquest (15th century) Serbia and Croatia, plus smaller kingdoms & regions
    Singleton: 13-19 (Arrival of Slavs in South) 24-32 (S/C/Mn/B-H)
    Dvornik: Slavs in European Civilization, 89-116; 132-146
    Spector: 30-42 (Serbia)
    Turnock: 126-129 (Serbia); 141-144 (Ottoman rule)
    Spector: 30-42 (Serbia)
    Turnock: 126-129 (Serbia); 141-144 (Ottoman rule)
    Jelavich: 24-43 (Ottoman rule)
    Walters: 237-250; 290-301 (Yugoslavia in 20th century)
  7. Icons and Orthodoxy. Visit St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Flint, MI. [Great Lent=3/9;
    Holy Week=4/20; Pascha= 4/26]
    Video: Andrei Rublev
  8. The 15th century Czech Reformation & Calvinism in Poland
    Dvornik: Slavs in European Civilization, 183-208; 389 430; 409-418
    PACKET: Letters of Jan Hus Hussite hymn & The Lollard Lady
  9. Renaissance and Enlightenment
    Dvornik: Slavs in European Civilization, 283-324; 128-132; 336-341
    Halecki: 258-275
    PACKET: Reaction to Polish Constitution
  10. The l7th century and the birth of Ukraine
    Dvornik: Slavs in European Civilization, 341-348; 470-486
    Subtelny: 69-102; 105-141
  11. Romanticism and Slavic nationalisms
    Halecki: 279-318
    PACKET: Mickiewicz, Petersburg & Monument to Peter the Great (1832); Pushkin, The Bronze Horseman (1833)
  12. Migration Patterns and the Slavs
    Hoerder: 3-31 (Introduction); 399-419
    (Round Trip Croatia, 1900-1914)
    Bukowczyk, 1-33
  13. Update on Slavs and East Central Europe, 1992
    Walters: 132-170; 270-279; 359-363

Paper Topics:

  1. Early Slavs: references to the Slavs by Greek & Roman geographers; contacts with western Roman empire, with Byzantine empire in the east and with Merovingian and Carolingian Franks in the West.
  2. Culture of Kiev Rus.
  3. Icons and Orthodoxy.
  4. Jan Hus and Hussite movement in Bohemia; contacts with Wyclif and Lollards in England.
  5. Bohemia under Charles IV.
  6. Poland under Casimir the Great.
  7. Three views of Ukraine: native (M. Hrushevsky); Polish traditional view (history); Russian historians, rulers and political and economic goals.
  8. Comparison of three 18th century constitutions: American Polish, French.
  9. Slavic poets and romanticism: Pushkin and/or Mickiewicz.
  10. Migration in 19th and early 20th century: the experience of one Slavic group; historical context of your family's history.
  11. Concept of "Eastern Europe": geographical, economic and political understandings up through 18th century; 19th and early 20th century (Mitteleuropa); political division after 1945.
  12. Mongols and East Central Europe or Russia.
  13. South Slavs: kingdoms of Serbia or Croatia.
  14. Ottoman rule in the Balkans.
  15. A 20th century phase in any Slavic state: interwar years, fate during WW II, Soviet period and its legacy, issues since 1989.

Theodosia S. Robertson is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of History at the University of Michigan-Flint. She received her PhD from Indiana University in 1985 and has written widely on Polish literature and other eastern European topics. Particularly well known is her work on Bruno Schulz and her translation of A. Fiut's book on Czeslaw Milosz (see SR, XII/1, January 1992).

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The Sarmatian Review
Last updated 04/17/97