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Eastern Europe in Modern European History

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week seminar for sixteen school teachers focused on the place of Eastern Europe in modern European history.

This seminar considers the minimal role that Eastern Europe plays in many conventional narratives of Europe since the eighteenth century and explores how this region might be incorporated in a more informed and expansive view of European history. The program is hosted by the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University (NYU) and led by its director, Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe (1994). Participants engage with the problems that arise from sundering the histories of Eastern and Western Europe from one another—an intellectual mapping underscored by the "Iron Curtain" of the Cold War—and from subsuming varied lands and peoples under the rubric of "Eastern Europe," despite great divergences in their histories. The first half of the program focuses on Western Europe's views of the East. Readings include Voltaire's letters to Catherine the Great and Rousseau's "Considerations Concerning the Government of Poland," excerpts from Rebecca West's Yugoslav travel narrative and ethnography Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, a Tintin adventure set in the fictional Eastern European country of Syldavia (King Ottokar's Scepter), and Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech, as well as secondary scholarship by the project director, Maria Todorova, Tony Judt, and Timothy Garton Ash. The second half addresses the East looking West. This segment considers "historical moments when the interlocking aspects of history in Eastern and Western Europe point toward a broader way of considering the continental whole," starting with the Defenestration of Prague and the Thirty Years War, but devoting the most time to the twentieth century, with its two world wars, the formation of the Communist Bloc, and the revolutions of 1989. Readings for this section include poetry by Adam Mickiewicz and Czeslaw Milosz, texts by religious figures from Jan Hus to Pope John Paul II, and essays by Vaclav Havel, Milan Kundera, and Croatian writers Slavenka Drakulic and Dubrarka Ugresic. Guest speakers Stefanous Geroulanos (NYU), Michael Beckerman (NYU), and Emily Greble (City University of New York) lend their voices to the exploration. Visits to subject-related museums and cultural sites, such as Ukrainian, Polish, and Hungarian cultural institutions and neighborhoods, and "museums such as MOMA that house works by Eastern European artists," round out the program.

Dates: June 30—July 18 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Larry Wolff, New York University
Grantee Institutions: New York University
Location: New York, NY

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.