Studying Eastern Europe at The University of Chicago
The University of Chicago offers numerous courses at the graduate and undergraduate level on the history and culture of Eastern Europe. On this page you will find featured courses studying Eastern Europe as well as related news and upcoming events. For information about particular Eastern European languages that are offered by The University of Chicago please see our Languages of Study menu.
REES 27021/37021 The Rise and Demise of Polish Chicago: Reading Polonia's Material Culture
Chicago claims to have the largest Polish and Polish-American population in the US and yet the city's distinctly Polish neighborhoods are now only history as their population has dispersed or moved to the suburbs. This course explores the diminishing presence of Poles against the lasting input of the material culture which they introduced to the urban spaces of Chicago. The course is framed by the fundamentals of thing discourse and employs the mediums of sculpture, fashion, photography, architecture and topography of the Polish community in Chicago through several field trips. The course's main goal is to map the evolution of the former Polish neighborhoods which often concluded with the erasure of their distinct ethno-space. In order to grasp the status of such changes, students take several field trips to the former Polish neighborhoods and visit their existing architectural landmarks and cultural institutions. Towards the end of the course, students conduct several interviews with Polish Chicagoans from the postwar and Solidarity immigrations. The course concludes with a capstone project for which students will make a virtual collection of artifacts designed as a curio cabinet filled with objects they found, created, and purchased during their research and field trips.
REES 29010/39010 Strangers to Ourselves: Emigre Literature and Film from Russia and Southeast Europe
"Being alienated from myself, as painful as that may be, provides me with that exquisite distance within which perverse pleasure begins, as well as the possibility of my imagining and thinking," writes Julia Kristeva in "Strangers to Ourselves," the book from which this course takes its title. The authors whose works we are going to examine often alternate between nostalgia and the exhilaration of being set free into the breathless possibilities of new lives. Leaving home does not simply mean movement in space. Separated from the sensory boundaries that defined their old selves, immigrants inhabit a warped, fragmentary, disjointed time. Immigrant writers struggle for breath-speech, language, voice, the very stuff of their craft resounds somewhere else. Join us as we explore the pain, the struggle, the failure, and the triumph of emigration and exile. Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Brodsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Nina Berberova, Julia Kristeva, Alexander Hemon, Dubravka Ugrešić, Norman Manea, Miroslav Penkov, Ilija Trojanow, Tea Obreht.
REES 24003/44003 Colloquium: Lost Histories of the Left
When most Americans think about "the left," Marxism, Soviet state socialism, or European social democracy spring to mind. This class will explore alternative-but now largely forgotten-blueprints for revolutionizing the political and social order that emerged in the nineteenth century. We will pay special attention to utopian socialism, early anticolonial movements, the Jewish Labor Bund, and anarchism. Examining the intellectual underpinnings of these movements, their influence on the modern world, and the factors that led to their demise, we will also consider what lessons they can teach to those committed to realizing a better future today.