Fall 2020 Select Courses in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Note: The courses listed below are not an exhaustive list of courses being offered on the REEE region. Please see the course explorer for additional classes.

All course information provided below is accurate as of August 17, 2020.

BCS 115: South Slavic Cultures
Instructor: Peter Wright
TR 2:00 PM – 3:20 PM Online

Exploration of South Slavic cultures in the historically rich and complex region sometimes referred to as “the Balkans,” focusing particularly on those groups found within the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. Critical look at the traditional view of the region as the crossroads or the bridge between East and West, and at the term Balkanization which has become a pejorative term used to characterize fragmented, and self-defeating social systems.

HIST 259: The Cold War
Instructor: Felix Cowen
MWF: 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM Altgeld Hall, Room 314

The course explores the history of the second half of the 20th century through the prism of the Cold War, a conflict between the two Super Powers- the USSR and USA — which brought the world to the threshold of mutually assured destruction.

HIST 260: Russian History from Early Times to the Present: Experience, Imagination, and Power
Instructor: Mark Steinberg
MWF: 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM Online

The history of “Russia” (Rus, Muscovy, Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation) from medieval times to the present. Although an introductory “survey course,” my aim is that we look beneath the surface of events to explore how individuals and groups experienced, interpreted, and made their own history. Most readings are primary texts, created at the time, so that we can listen to the past in its own voices as we try to understand, explain, and interpret. Three large (and related) interpretive questions are at the center of our exploration—experience (especially the experiences of everyday life); imagination (ways of thinking, feeling, seeing, and dreaming as expressed in ideas, ideologies, religion, and art); and power (rulers and their ideals as well as dissent and rebellion).

HIST 262: Zionism: A Global History
Instructor E. Avrutin and M. Ruiz
Online 

Examines the history of the Zionist movement. The course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Jewish, European, or Middle Eastern history. The goal is to survey how Zionism emerged as a widespread political movement and, in the process, helped create an independent state for the Jewish people. In addition to familiarizing students with the backstory of a globally significant movement, this class will teach students historical interpretation skills.

HIST 353: European History 1918-1939
Instructor: Peter Fritzsche
TR 9:30 AM – 10:50 AM Online

This course examines the political and cultural environment of Europe from the demise of the continental empires after World War I to the dawn of the thousand-year Reich at the start of World War II. This Age of Extremes saw the rise of liberal democracies, the flourishing of new artistic movements, and the birth of new technologies such as film. At the same time, this period was also marked by the ascension of dictators, crises in colonial empires, and one of the largest economic crisis in history. Perhaps more famous (or infamous) than these events are the individuals we will cover, which includes the likes of Neville Chamberlain, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin. We will explore the period through a variety of sources, including speeches, contemporary films, and a novel concerned with an even greater threat: newts.

HIST 439: The Ottoman Empire
Instructor: Maria Todorova
TR 11:00 AM – 12:20 PM Online

This course introduces the history of one of the great imperial formations of the early modern and modern period, which had long-standing repercussions on the development of Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. It covers the whole span of Ottoman history, and will pay special attention to some of the following problems: the political rise of the Ottoman state since the thirteenth century and how it became an empire, its social land administrative structure, the classical Ottoman economic system, Ottoman impact on the societies, politics, economies and cultures of Byzantium and the medieval Balkan states, the spread of Islam in Europe, the transformations of the Ottoman polity and society, aspects of what has been conventionally named as Ottoman decline, the Eastern question in international relations, the modernizing reforms of the nineteenth century, and the spread of nationalism as a prelude to the final demise of the supranational empire in the twentieth century.

HIST 502: Problems in Comparative History: Microhistory
Instructor: Maria Todorova
R 3:00 PM – 4:50 PM Online

What does it mean to change the scale of perspective in history? In science, observation through the telescope or through the microscope, in addition to the naked eye, are equally legitimate, as well as complementing. In history, there is still the tendency to prioritize certain approaches, to pronounce their scale of perspective as more “significant.” The goal of this graduate seminar is to serve as an introduction to a relatively new historical field – microhistory – which has been flourishing since the late 1970s. What paradigm did the first microhistorians challenge? What traditions did they step on? What new directions has microhistorical research taken in the past decades? How does it differ across chronological, geographical and social boundaries? The course consists of class discussions on readings, book reviews and a final historiographical or research paper. The readings draw on a variety of historical schools and aim at providing a solid introduction to the scholarly literature. They are clustered around a list of mandatory books (at Illini Bookstore), an extensive list of books on reserve, supplemented by articles and reviews that will be available during the course. We are going to read the work of the original Italian school (Carlo Ginzburg, Giovanni Levi, Guido Ruggiero, and other historians around Quaderni Storici), the antecedents to the microhistory in historical anthropology and the Annales school, the cultural approach in the work of early modernists (Natalie Zemon Davis and Robert Darnton), as well as examples of microhistorical research from different locales and from different historical eras: India, China, Latin America, the Atlantic, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa.

HIST 560: Problems in Russian History – Politics, Society, and Culture in Modern Russian and Soviet History, 1881-1939
Instructor: Mark Steinberg
R 1:00 PM – 2:50 PM Online

Major themes in the history and historiography of late imperial and early Soviet Russia and the USSR from 1880s through the 1930s. Topics to be explored include social and cultural experience, diversity and difference, power and transgression, cultural construction and interpretation, gender, empire, capitalism, socialism, and revolution. Central to the course are questions of historical methodology and theory as well as interpretation of the Russian past.

JS 320/CWL 320/ENGL 359/REL 320/YDSH 320: Lit Responses to the Holocaust
Instructor: R. Harris 
Online

Course introduces a variety of Jewish literary responses to the Holocaust written during and after the Second World War (from 1939). The discussion of Holocaust memoirs, diaries, novels, short stories, poems, and other texts will focus on the unique contribution of literary works to our understanding of the Holocaust. In addition, the works and their authors will be situated in their Jewish cultural historical context. Taught in English translation. 

LAW 656: International Law
Instructor: Francis A. Boyle
MT 3:00-4:15 PM Online

The International Law course examines the variety of roles played by law and lawyer in ordering the relations between states and the nationals of states. The course utilizes a number of specialized contexts as a basis for exploring these roles. The contexts include, among others, the status of international law in domestic courts; the efficacy of judicial review by the International Court of Justice; the effort to subsume international economic relations under the fabric of bilateral and multilateral treaties; and the application — or misapplication — of law to political controversies that entail the threat of actual use of force. The course proceeds through an examination of problems selected to illuminate the operation of law within each of these contexts.

MUS 418/518: Regional Studies in Musicology: Eurasian Musical Excursions 
Instructor: Donna Buchanan 
MW 3:30 PM – 4:50 PM Online

Startling vocal polyphonies and shimmering string ensembles. Gymnastic dancing and chivalric epics. Mythologies of musical magic and medicine. Songs of valor, love, and anguish. This interdisciplinary course explores the legacy of traditional musical life in Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine—four contemporary Eurasian countries that are, on the one hand, nations with lengthy and complex political histories, and on the other, recently established post-Soviet states that are also the site of ongoing strife and ethnic conflict. Although the syllabus is organized by country, at least five factors will emerge as intercultural links across this complicated area: shared Christian heritage; a history of sharply delineated gender codes; a legacy of Russian and Soviet imperialism; the contemporary experience of postsocialism on the cusp of a rapidly changing Asia, Europe, and Middle East; and cultural repositories of indigenous beliefs whose folkloric, ritual, and musical manifestations intertwine fundamentally with the natural world. Course topics will survey the history, regional distribution, popularization, and social significance of vernacular musics in diverse media and venues—from the fields to the festival stage to flashmobs. Course materials will draw upon recordings, music videos, literary works, and films in addition to anthropological, area, and ethnomusicological studies. Whenever possible, students will engage first hand with representative instruments, vocal practices, and regional specialists. While the ability to hear, identify, and understand the significance of regional genres and their distinguishing features is a primary course objective, students from both within and outside the School of Music are encouraged to enroll; instructor expectations will be modified accordingly. Graduate students from outside Music who wish to register for MUS 518 should contact the instructor for permission.

REES 116/RUSS 115: Intro to Russian Culture
Instructor: Richard Tempest
MWF 3:00 PM – 3:50 PM Online

Introduction to the culture of Russia and the USSR. Course addresses two central themes. First, the very distinctiveness of Russian culture, and the functions of that notion within Russia and for outsiders; Second, Russia as a cultural space between East and West. We will explore Russian culture through the following, the language(s); foundational narratives of collective memory going back to the medieval times; the cultural impact of colonial subjugation both by and of peoples to the East, South, and West; Russian Orthodoxy’s connection with the political and cultural spheres; peak achievements in literature, music, architecture and visual arts. 

REES 200: Introduction to Russia and Eurasia
Instructor: Maureen Marshall
Online

Survey of the societies and states formerly constituted as the Soviet Union. Interdisciplinary and team-taught. Combines lectures, discussions, and films covering the history, political science, economics, sociology, and culture of the area.

REES 495/550: Senior Seminar/Graduate Seminar in REEE Studies
Instructor: Benjamin Bamberger
Online

Interdisciplinary seminar involving faculty in a number of disciplines. The course examines Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia and the methodologies of its study through questions of identities, cultural values, and change.

RUSS 322/522: Dostoevsky
Instructor: Harriet Murav
TR 2:00 PM – 3:20 PM Online

Dostoevsky’s Russia was beset by violent terrorism, political and economic uncertainty. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881), one of the world’s greatest authors, wrote Poor Folk, The Double, Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons, The Adolescent, A Writer’s Diary, and The Brothers Karamazov. He grappled with the major questions of the modern era in a boldly experimental style. Politics and religious and ethnic tension are explicit themes of his works. He was a political radical as a young man, sentenced to death for crimes against the government, but was reprieved. By the end of his life he shifted to the right politically. He suffered epileptic seizures during which he experienced mystical ecstasy. The Brothers Karamazov is Dostoevsky’s last novel. If there is no God, is everything permitted?

*No Russian required. This course focuses on The Brothers Karamazov.

RUSS 511: Russian Literature 1800-1855
Instructor: Valeria Sobol
W 3:30 – 5:30 PM Online

Graduate-level study of major literary trends and developments in Russian literature from 1800-1855, from early romanticism to the emergence of a realist tradition, in criticism, drama, poetry, and prose. Prerequisite: Ability to read in Russian.

SLAV 117/CWL 117: Russ & Euro Science Fiction
Instructor: Richard Tempest
MWF 11:00 AM – 12:50 PM Online

Survey of the science fiction writing of Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe since 1750, with particular emphasis on the post-World War II period. The role of the Science Fiction tradition in the respective national cultures. The influence on Russian and East European Science Fiction of Anglo-American Science Fiction. All readings are in English.

SLAV 501/CWL 511/EALC 511/GER 511/TRST 501: Applied Literary Translation 1 
Instructor: Roman Ivashkiv
M 3:00 PM – 5:20 PM Online

Focuses on both the theory and the practice of literary translation, as well as the business aspect of how to negotiate a translation proposal through the US publishing market. Students will produce a completed translation of a short story or a selection of poems. Course Information: Same as CWL 511, EALC 511, GER 511, and SLAV 501. 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.

SLAV 576/CWL 576: Methods in Slavic Grad Study
Instructor: L. Kaganovsky
M 2:00 PM – 4:50 PM Online

Comparative, interdisciplinary methods and theoretical issues crucial to studies in Slavic literature, history, and culture. Theoretical bookshelf followed by specific case studies from Slavic.

TURK 270/ANTH 272/GLBL 272/SAME 272: Language and Culture in Turkey
Instructor: A. Ozcan and E. Saadah
TR 2:00 PM – 3:20 PM Online

As a country located at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa, Turkey has always been under the spotlight. In this course, we will study the dynamic relationship between language and culture in Ottoman and modern Turkey through a timely analysis of its transition from a long-lasting empire to a young “secular” nation-state. We will examine the complexities of Turkish modernity from a holistic perspective to better comprehend how central Asian and Middle Eastern cultural influences, continuities, and transformations gave birth to modern Turkish language. The course should help you not only in developing an understanding of the Turkish language within a cultural framework, but also in gaining insight into Turkey’s history, politics, literature, and media. No former knowledge of Turkey or the Turkish language is required.

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