Wesleyan University

Spring 2003                                414 PAC -- ext. 2385                           Mr. Morgan
E-mail:  dmorgan@wesleyan.edu                 Home phone:  346-1522
Course website:  http://dmorgan.web.wesleyan.edu/jrtut/

Office Hours:

Monday  10 - 12
Wednesday 10 - 12
Thursday 1 - 3

and by appointment

Course Overview

This tutorial concerns Eastern Europe during the time of the Cold War and Soviet dominance. Our main subject is the relationship between the ruling system and the people, from the end of the crushing German occupation in 1944-45 to the upheaval of 1989-91 that produced the end of Soviet domination and the Soviet system itself. We investigate Communism as a ruling system, both in its self-conception and in its practical operation. We look at the nationalism of small peoples and forms of resistance in oppressed societies, whether expressed by intellectuals and churchmen or by workers and peasants. We examine some of the key dynamics of the Cold War between East and West.  And we take a quick look at the aftermath, especially in Yugoslavia.

The course emphasizes developments in the Soviet satellite states of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary; in the independent Communist state of Yugoslavia; and in the Soviet Union itself. The reading consists of primary materials as well as the work of historians and political scientists. Each member of the class will be asked to read and report on a particular country as we go along, in addition to the main reading common to the whole class.


The assigned course reading features several kinds of original sources: documents, political treatises, contemporary rapportage, and a memoir (by Milovan Djilas). The following paperbacks have been ordered for the course through Atticus:

Ivan T. Berend, Central and Eastern Europe, 1944-1993
Timothy Garton Ash, The Polish Revolution:  Solidarity, 3rd ed.
Geoffrey Hosking, The First Socialist Society 2nd enl. ed.
Lyman H. Legters (ed.),
Eastern Europe: Transformation and Revolution, 1945-1991
Michael Marrus,
The Holocaust in History
Joseph Rothschild and Nancy M. Wingfield, Return to Diversity, 3rd ed.
Laura Silber and Allen Little, Yugoslavia:  Death of a Nation
Gale Stokes, The Walls Came Tumbling Down

A number of charts, tables, maps and other materials are posted on the course website for your use. Among them is a guide to how to pronounce unfamiliar names and technical terms from the East European languages. You can reach all this through links from this page, or through the Materials link in the index to the left of this page.

Course work

The writing assignments are all either longer or shorter than last year's five-page papers. Papers of eight to ten pages are due at the second and fourth meetings of the tutorial, and shorter exercises at the other meetings:  papers of two to three pages, bibliographical exercises, and the like. The final exercise of the course, described at the accompanying link, is a 15-page research paper.

The assignments and study questions, handed out in class for each week, can also be consulted using the link attached to each week number ("Week 1", etc.).

Reading assignments
= xeroxed handout or Reserve reading

Week 1 -- World War II: Occupation, Resistance, and Genocide, 1939-45

Website table:  Eastern Europe during and after WWII
Website maps:  Numerous Maps are available 

2- to 3-page discussion paper:

The readings show us that the experience of the Second World War was vastly different in Eastern Europe than in the United States, or even in Britain. What are some of the striking features of the experience of the war years in Eastern Europe, and what implications do they have? In thinking about this, keep in mind the readings in Marrus and Djilas.

Week 2 -- Stalin and the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe, 1945-53

8- to 10-page paper:

People used to believe that the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe in Stalin’s lifetime (i.e., up to 1953) were all stamped from the same mold. In retrospect it looks more complicated than that. What differences do you find between the Communist regimes established in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in the years between 1945 and 1953? How would you account for these differences?

Week 3 -- After Stalin: Challenges in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, 1956 and 1968

2- to 3-page discussion paper:

The Hungarian events of the fall of 1956 and the Czechoslovakian events of the spring and summer of 1968 both amounted to revolts against old-line Stalinist leaders, spearheaded by intellectuals but widely supported by people of all kinds. Given the similarities, can you explain why the course of events was so different in the two countries?

Also:  Be thinking about what country to you want to be specially responsible for over the next three weeks. In class we will assign the countries.  (Better have a second choice in mind!)

Week 4 -- Stagnation and Dissidence

8- to 10-page paper on any one of the following three topics:

a) Analyze the phenomenon of "dissidents" in Communist Eastern Europe -- that is, intellectuals and professionals openly showing dissent or opposition. Can you make general statements about what drove them into the risky behavior of open opposition? about what they hoped to accomplish in the face of these powerful, oppressive regimes? about why they were more numerous and fared better in some countries than in others? In your paper deal with at least three countries.  

b) The expanding culture of consumerism in the West clearly had effects in the Communist world. How did Soviet and East European leaders deal with it? With what success?

c) How important was nationalism in shaping the Communist regimes and their relations with each other? How important was it in determining the relations of the governments with their peoples?

NB:  For this week you are expected to do extra reading on the country for which you are responsible, and incorporate it into your paper. This paper requires formal Footnotes and Bibliography, and remember to put accent marks on the names where appropriate.

Week 5 -- The Third Challenge: Poland and Solidarity, 1980-81


Type up five study questions on this week's material, and bring to class enough copies of your sheet of questions for everyone to have one.

In preparation for class, keep your reading about your particular country moving forward. For the purposes of class, be ready to comment on how your country reacted (or failed to react) to the Solidarity phenomenon, and why. If your country is Poland, be ready to talk about the background and the aftermath of Solidarity -- that is, its Polish context. 

NB:  If we haven't yet had a conversation about the topic for your research paper, this is the week we should do it.

Week 6 -- The End of the Empire in Eastern Europe, 1989

Website table:  Eastern Europe today


Towards the Research paperSubmit a prospectus, consisting of a paragraph-length statement of your topic together with a preliminary bibliography. (Here's another opportunity to practice proper bibliographic form!) Before you get too far into your work on something please consult with me about the topic and the materials you intend to use. I may be able to help, and a conversation at this point can keep us from getting at cross-purposes later on.

A second (very small) assignment:  What, in your judgment, are the three principal reasons why East European Communist regimes in the 1980s were having increasing difficulty ruling by the methods that seemed almost unchallengeable in the 1970s? Write them down before class (to be handed in); a sentence is enough for each point, no argument necessary, and they don't have to be typed. We'll compare notes in class.

Week 7 -- The Post-Communist Crisis at the Extreme: Yugoslavia

2- to 3-page discussion paper

Many people believe that the bloodshed of the 1990s in Bosnia (and later in Kosovo) -- "ethnic cleansing", mass rape and killings -- should be understood as an expression of "ancient hatreds".  What's your view on this point?