Explaining Ruritania: The Balkans between history and imagination | EUJ 207

Instructor: Dimitris Livanios

Course Description
The aim of this course is to offer in-depth analysis of the most salient aspects of the historical development of the Balkans in the 19th and 20th centuries, and to explore the position of the region in the Western imagination. Within this framework, the course will examine the Ottoman rule in the Balkans, the emergence and development of nation-states, the involvement of the Great Powers, and the role of nationalism as an agent of violence and dislocation.  It will also critically evaluate western perceptions of the Balkans as a land of “ancient hatreds” and endemic violence, and analyze the process of their construction.


Course Objectives

  • Understand the construction and dynamics of the Balkan nation-states
  • Understand the formation of Balkan national identities
  • Understand the western perceptions of the Balkans
  • Understand the main internal and external factors that shaped modern Balkan history


Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze the functioning of western stereotypes about the Balkans
  2. Analyze the role of nationalism in modern Balkan history
  3. Analyze the role of violence in modern Balkan history
  4. Define the position of the Balkans between the “Orient” and the “West”.


Class/Learning activities

Lectures, in-class presentations, literature study, written assignments.



Type of work Description Hours
Lectures Thirteen 3-hours lectures 39
Independent study Study of secondary literature and online research 80-90
In-class presentation Presentation of a specific historical topic, and /or literature review 25-30
Written assignment Essay (at least 5.000 words) 120-140
Total workload 264-289



Type of assessment Learning outcome Impact on final grade Date of assessment
In-class presentation 1-2 20% 8th-12th week
Written assignment 1-4 80% 12th week


Required Reading

Castellan, G. (1992) History of the Balkans: from Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin. New York: East European Monographs.

Detrez, R. – Plas, P. [eds] (2005) Developing cultural identity in the Balkans: Convergence vs Divergence. Brussels: Peter Lang.

Goldsworthy, V. (1998) Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Hammond, A. (2007) The Debated Lands: British and American Representations of the Balkans. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Jelavich, B. (1983) History of the Balkans (two volumes). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lampe, J. – Mazower, M. [eds] (2004) Ideologies and National Identities: The Case of Twentieth-Century Southeastern Europe. New York: Central European University Press.

Lampe, J. (2006) Balkans into Southeastern Europe: A Century of War and Transition. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Mazower, M. (2001) The Balkans. London: Phoenix.

Pavlowitch, S. (1999) A History of the Balkans, 1804-1945. London: Longman.

Stavrianos, L. (2000) The Balkans Since 1453. London: Hurst.

Todorova, M. (1997) Imagining the Balkans. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Todorova, M. [ed.] (2004) Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory. New York: New York University Press.

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