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Courses on the History of Medieval and Early Modern Ukraine and Eastern Europe by Omeljan Pritsak: Syllabi and Selected Lectures

Description: In 1996 the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Studies of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies initiated its monograph series with the publication of Ukraine between East and West: Essays on Cultural History to the Early Eighteenth Century by Ihor Ševčenko. The basis for this book were lectures delivered by him in History 154a “History of the Ukraine to the 17th Century,” a course that he taught jointly with Omeljan Pritsak at Harvard University between 1970 and 1976.

A companion volume with Professor Pritsak’s lectures was never published. Audio tapes of the course from Fall 1970 were preserved in the Harvard Language Laboratory for many years but were eventually transferred to the Harvard University Archives. Because their retention policy did not include departmental lectures they were unfortunately discarded.

Fortunately a mimeographed prospectus of the course and full texts of seven lectures that were most probably read in class were found among Professor Pritsak’s papers preserved in the Omeljan Pritsak Research Center for Oriental Studies at the National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (though in the above title they are referred to as selected, in fact they are the extant rather than selected lectures, though further research may uncover additional lectures). In addition Professor Victor Ostapchuk of the University of Toronto has provided a composite set of syllabus sheets from Fall 1970 and Fall 1972. These were obtained by him while he attended Harvard Summer School in 1973. In addition while a graduate student at Harvard he attended Pritsak’s History 1231 “Eastern Europe in its Eurasian Context, 600–1200 A.D.” in Spring 1978 and has also provided its syllabus. There is much overlap with History 154a but the coverage is of course broader.

The materials posted here provide a view of Omeljan Pritsak’s style as teacher and scholar, which was marked by a stunning mix of erudition in multiple fields and a plethora of original ideas. Being lecture materials, they are not scholarly publications with references and should only be referred to as lectures rather than as articles. Despite the fact that their author did not have a chance to prepare them for publication and though most of the ideas in these lectures appear in some form in his various publications, the syllabus sheets and extant lectures provide examples in an accessible form of his fascinating contributions to Ukrainian and Eastern European history from a very broad Eurasian perspective. “Eurasian” here is meant not in the sense that the word is usually used today denoting the region between Europe and the Far East and South Asia, i.e., mostly the European and Asian parts of the former USSR, but rather in the broadest sense of both Europe and Asia.

The syllabus sheets were photocopied in 1973 from mimeographs and because of the state of the technology at the time a few of the sheets are of poor quality and difficult to read. In particular the sheet entitled “The German (Magdeburg) Law, Humanism, Reformation, and Counter-Reformation in Ukraine” is difficult to read. There letters that were barely legible have been written over by hand. With careful inspection almost everything can be read. The prospectus to the 1972 course is also difficult to read, but the list of lectures is nearly identical with that in the prospectus from 1970 and that is why both are given in the pdf with the syllabus sheets to History 154a. The prospectus for History 154a 1970 is held in NaUKMA Archive, fond 10, 1137; the texts of lectures 8, 10-12, 14, 17, 18 are in NaUKMA Archive, fond 10, 1141. The rest of the material is from the papers of Victor Ostapchuk. The originals of his copies of History 154a materials are in NaUKMA Archive, fond 10, 1137 and of History 123 in NaUKMA Archive, fond 10, 1153. All materials held in the NaUKMA Archive are posted with its permission.

NaUKMA Archive = Національний Університет “Києво-Могилянська ададемія,” Наукова Бібліотека, Науковий Архів (National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Academic Library, Academic Archive)
Author: Omeljan Pritsak
Publisher: CIUS, NaUKMA
Date: 1970–1976
Rights: NaUKMA
Language: English
Coverage: 10–20 c.
600–1200 A.D.





Omeljan Pritsak, “Courses on the History of Medieval and Early Modern Ukraine and Eastern Europe by Omeljan Pritsak: Syllabi and Selected Lectures,” CIUS-Archives, accessed September 20, 2021,
Unless otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license .