Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Entangled History: Ukraine and her neighbours, from the Middle Ages to the Present (HI2J8)

Module convenor: Christoph Mick

This module introduces students in the history of Ukraine and through this history in the history of its neighbours, in particular the history of Russia and Poland. It will introduce students also into theories of nation building and nationalism and emphasise the importance of symbols, history writing and culture for nation building.

Until recently Western conceptions of Ukrainian history were shaped by frameworks provided by Russian historiography which saw Ukraine as part of the ‘Russian world’ – or between 1917 and 1991 as integral part of the Soviet Union. Alternative concepts of 19th and 20th century Ukrainian historiography were widely ignored. The module aims to decolonise Ukrainian history without replacing the dominant Russian narrative or older Polish narratives just with a Ukrainian narrative. The module will treat Ukrainian history as entangled with Russian and Polish (and Lithuanian, Belarusian Ottoman, and other) history but will consider that the Ukrainians (or to use earlier ethnonyms: Rus’, Rusyny, Ruthenians) over much of their history found themselves in a colonial relationship with imperial centres. In Autumn term, we will be looking at medieval and early modern history and study how cultural and political developments in Ukraine, in Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy/the Russian Empire created the preconditions for the modern Ukrainian nation. We will end with the analysis of some key texts of Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian political thinkers reflecting about their nations. Spring Term begins with analysing processes of nationalisation before the First World War followed by a series of lectures and seminars dealing with the impact of wars and revolutions on Poland, Russia and Ukraine, and Ukrainian state building attempts between 1917 and 1921. The remaining weeks will cover the 20th century. Nationality policy in inter-war Poland and the Soviet Union is followed by weeks dedicated to the Second World War, the post-war period, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and independent Ukraine up to the present day.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the history of Ukraine and its entanglement with Polish and Russian history, and the importance of cultural factors, shared memories and shared forgetting, common suffering and cultural artefacts in nation building .
  • Communicate ideas and findings, adapting to a range of situations, audiences and degrees of complexity.
  • Generate ideas through the analysis of a broad range of primary source material connected with the processes of nation building in Eastern Europe, including visual sources.
  • Analyse and evaluate the contributions made by existing scholarship.
  • Act with limited supervision and direction within defined guidelines, accepting responsibility for achieving deadlines.

Short essay topics