Dictatorship, Dissidence and Democracy: Central Europe in the 20th Century


Central Europe in the second half of the twentieth century was ground zero in the Cold War, as well as in the battle of ideas that accompanied it. In this course, we will first examine the theory of communism and the practice of Stalinism in the region; then seek to understand the tactics of dissent and the ideas behind it; and finally focus on the collapse of communism in 1989 and the struggle to “democratize” the region in the decade that followed. Over the course of the semester we will examine the relationship between political ideology and everyday life, seeking to understand what big concepts like ‘democracy’ and ‘dictatorship’ really meant for ordinary people from Warsaw and Tallinn to Budapest and East Berlin. We will also discuss Soviet, American and, in the latter part of the course, Russian foreign policy, with special emphasis on outsiders’ use of propaganda and violence to affect political change in the region.

Please visit the Office of the Registrar for more information about this course.