INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY, CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION OF CENTRAL EUROPE
Preparatory Term 1994
Jirí Musil
European Studies Department
Central European University


Course Outline

This introduction should help students to understand the specific social, economic, ethnic and cultural structures of the region where the CEU is located. The lectures are concerned with the 19th and 20th centuries and analyze common features of the whole Central Europe as well as of its various parts, i.e.: Czech Lands, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and partly also Germany. The introduction has four parts:
1. The changing definitions of the concept of Central Europe
2. Modernization processes in Central Europe
3. Changes in ethnic and social structures in the region
4. Specific qualities of Central European culture and thought.

First Part: Definition of Central Europe.
The survey of recent and past attempts to define Central Europe geographically, economically, politically or culturally, show how these definitions depend on the historical context and on the purpose for which they had been constructed.

Second Part: Modernization of the region.
Industrialization, urbanization and demographic transition in Central Europe had specific features which made this region different from other parts of Europe. In some parts of Central Europe modernization was taking place already in 19th century within a system of market economy, in some other parts however later, under the system of socialist economy. The consequences of this different development are felt up to the present time.

Third Part: Changes in ethnic and social structure.
Central Europe's specificity in the 19th century was a considerable ethnic heterogeneity and the existence of ethnically mixed areas. In the 20th century the region went through a drastic ethnic homogenization, the proportion of the German and Jewish population drastically decreased. During the last two centuries also enormous social restructurations shook the stability of the region.

Fourth Part: Culture and thought.
The analyzed region has typical features of cultural areas where many different philosophical, artistic schools meet, merge and overlap. This situation made this region a kind of transition and border zone. Mixtures of ethnic groups stimulated the development of theoretical linguistics, history, ethnography, theory of nation.

Required reading:
Berend, Ivan T. 1986. The Crisis Zone of Europe. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
Berend, Ivan T. and György Ránki 1982. The European Periphery and Industrialization. 1780-1914. Cambridge: CUP.
Eastern Europe... Central Europe... Europe. 1990. Daedalus Vol. 119, No.1.
Shöpflin, George and Wood, Nancy. 1989. In Search of Central Europe. Totowa, N.Y. Barnes and Noble Books.
Schwarz, Egon. Central Europe, What It Is and What It Is not. in Schöpflin, Wood Chpt.11.
Sinnhuber, Karl A. 1954. Central Europe - Mitteleuropa - Europe Centrale. Transactions of Institute of British Geographers. No.29. 1954:15-39.
Wagner, Francis, S. 1970. Toward a New Central Europe. Astor Pack, Fl. Danubian Press, Inc.


CRC-Curriculum Resource Center
CEU Budapest, Hungary
Modified: April, 1996


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