By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:
- Describe how Balkan societies changed fundamentally from about 1790
- Discuss the power of ideas and ideologies and how they impacted the lives of ordinary people across the region
- Describe the relationships that common folk had with old and new political, cultural and economic elites
- Examine the impact that urbanization and social mobility had across the Balkans
Your online learning will include the following methods:
- Reading academic and non-academic articles
- Short video presentations
- Participation in written discussions with other students
- Participation in videoconference seminars
For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.
Week 1: The invisible wave
By the end of the 18th century, the region’s elites learned of the need to modernize. They demanded economic and social change, and in the process discovered a new resource–the peasantry. Those who worked the land would be made to pay more and more in tax while also defending visions of ‘the nation.’ There was likely disappointment with peasant unresponsiveness, but those closest to the land were more than aware that realities were changing.
Week 2: The romance
Single-crop economies and new technologies introduced from the early 19th century destroyed old ways. Yet those outside the peasant social groups saw and experienced only the frustration of what they felt was lack of progress. Perhaps to win over the peasants, they appealed to the image of the stalwart worker of the soil, the image of a heroic and self-sacrificing commoner devoted to community betterment. It was a time for nationalism to embrace local tradition.
Week 3: Who are these people?
Were the bourgeoisie nothing but peasants who learned how to read and get rich? As the 19th century wore on, this social class of nouveau riche came to dominate culture and politics from Hungary to Greece, from Serbia to Romania. Their vision of a good life often meant that peasants and even old ‘aristocrats’ would have to abandon their attachment to old ways.
Week 4: Nothing the same!
The 20th century saw trends accelerate. The period witnessed large-scale social dislocation, population migrations, urbanization, emigration and war. These elements are often cited when explanations are needed to account for the region's development. But how important were shifting values and ideas to the realities that evolved?
Books, materials and resources
You will access course resources using SFU’s online course management system, Canvas.