The aim of the course is to discuss the history of the educated strata in Eastern and East-Central Europe from the Enlightenment to the present day. We will look at various terms that were used - such as "litterati", "intellectuals", "intelligentsia", "middle class" or "educated bourgeoisie" (Bildungsbuergertum) and we will try to discover various interpretative approaches implied by the variety of terminology. One of the central problems to discuss is the relation of the intellectuals to various authoritarian and totalitarian regimes: are the educated people especially prone to support such regimes or are they rather the vanguard of the opposition? Or do they play both roles depending on situation?
The course will combine political, social and intellectual history, presenting both the narrow intellectual elite and transformations of the broader educated group that included state officials, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. A comparative European perspective should enable us to address the question of specificities of the educated strata in various regions of the continent.