HI 391 Travel and Politics in Eastern Europe
Hamilton 420, Monday 3:00-5:50
Professor Chad Bryant
468 Hamilton Hall
Office Hours: M 2:00-3:00, W 1:00-3:00
and by appointment
“To be rooted is perhaps the perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the
human soul.” – Simone Weil
“What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so
far from our own country, we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go
back to the protection of old habits .
.. This is why we should not say that we travel for
pleasure.” – Albert Camus
“We go to Europe to become Americanized.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I hate travelling and explorers.” – Claude Levi-Strauss
The theme uniting this course is travel and the movement of peoples to, from, and within
Eastern Europe from the eighteenth century to the present. Our first set of questions asks
what the study of travel and mobility can teach us about Eastern Europe. How have
“Western” travellers helped to create and maintain enduring characteristics of the region?
How did increased mobility from 1848 to 1948 transform the Eastern Europe’s
economies, societies, and cultures? Our second set of questions deals more generally with
the experience of travel. Why do people travel? Is it to learn about other cultures, to meet
new people, to exchange ideas? Or is it to confirm beliefs already held, to learn more
about ourselves, or our own cultures? Has travel, and tourism, promoted understanding
among cultures or accentuated their respective differences? What might perceptive
tourists, emigrés, and exiles tell us about Eastern Europe, Europe, or perhaps our own
culture, at various moments in history?
Our common readings will include a mix of primary and secondary sources, which we
will read and discuss during the first half the semester. In the first few weeks short
lectures will provide background information on the region’s history and the readings.
Your main task, however, will be to write a 20- to 25-page research paper, based on