TAS218 Poland and Central Europe in Transatlantic Relations

Teacher responsible:

Dr. Wojciech Michnik

Brief course description:

Participants are introduced to essential political, economic and cultural questions for Poland and the rest of Central European states. At the conclusion of the class students should be able to identify and understand the most important issues and problems facing the region, and put them in the broader U.S. - European relations perspective.


The course examines the role of the contemporary Central European countries in the broader context of Euro-Atlantic relations, focusing on political, economic and cultural dimensions. Although Poland will constitute the focal point of this study, the politics and history of other countries in the region will be indispensable component of this class.

Until 1989, it was common to refer to the European communist countries outside of Soviet Union as  to "Eastern Europe", which was mostly used in the context of political and ideological divisions rather than geographic position. After the collapse of communism and dissolution of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe "became" Central Europe, at least in official wording of many international actors and in publications of renown scholars. Regardless the labels, what really counted, were critical and groundbreaking changes in these countries that transformed European politics for years to come. Political, economic, social, cultural and legal changes that began over 20 years ago, have not been completed yet, as they all are parts of o much long-term processes of embracing free market economy and Western-style liberal democracy. On the other hand, along with transformation of Central Europe, the political and economic priorities shifted both for the rest of Europe and for the United States as well. And this shift brought equally opportunities and challenges for transatlantic relations. This class will examine above-mentioned issues using Central Europe and its states as an analytical lenses. 


1. Introduction – rules; reading assignments; useful resources to study Central and Eastern Europe politics.
2.What is Central Europe – basic concepts and facets.
3.Brief History of Central and Eastern Europe I – legacies of Yalta.
4.Brief History of Central and Eastern Europe II – behind the Curtin
5.Brief History of Central and Eastern Europe III - 1989 and beyond.
6.Central Europe in 1990s – A Painful Transition.
7.The scope on Poland I– Polish Interests after 1989.
8.The scope on Poland II – Polish Foreign Policy – Trends and Patterns.
9.Midterm Exam
10. Focus on Selected Countries I
11. Focus on Selected Countries II
12. Focus on Selected Countries
13. Focus on Selected Countries
14. The Visegrad Group – Simulation
15. Central Europe– challenges ahead.

Reading list:

Milan Kundera, Tragedy of Central Europe, "New York Review of Books", Volume 31, Number 7 · April 26, 1984.
Tony Judt, Postwar, A History of Europe Since 1945, Penguin Books, New York 2005.
Elie Abel, The Shattered Bloc, Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1990
Vladimir Tismaneanu, Reinventing Politics, The Free Press, New York 1993.
Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations, Yale University Press, New Haven 2003.
Tadeusz Pieciukiewicz, Security in Central and Eastern Europe: A View From Warsaw, "Parameters", Winter 1996-97.
Gale Stokes ed., From Stalinism to Pluralism, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1991.
Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations, Yale University Press, New Haven 2003.
Vladimir Tismaneanu, Reinventing Politics, The Free Press, New York 1993.
Timothy Garton Ash, History of the Present, Penguin Books, London 2000.
Lonnie R. Johnson, Central Europe, Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1996.