The Making of Modern Ukraine: A Free Online Course from Yale Professor Timothy Snyder

This fall, historian Timothy Snyder is teaching a course at Yale University called The Making of Modern Ukraine. And he’s generously making the lectures available on YouTube–so that you can follow along too. All of the currently-available lectures appear above (or on this playlist), and we will keep adding new ones as they come online. A syllabus for the course can be found here. Key questions covered by the course include:

What brought about the Ukrainian nation?  Ukraine must have existed as a society and polity on 23 February 2022, else Ukrainians would not have collectively resisted Russian invasion the next day.  Why has the existence of Ukraine occasioned such controversy?  In what ways are Polish, Russian, and Jewish self-understanding dependent upon experiences in Ukraine?  Just how and when did a modern Ukrainian nation emerge?  Just how for that matter does any modern nation emerge?  And why some nations and not others?  What is the balance between structure and agency in history?  Can nations be chosen, and does it matter?  Can the choices of individuals influence the rise of much larger social organizations?  If so, how?  Ukraine was the country most touched by Soviet and Nazi terror: what can we learn about those systems, then, from Ukraine?  Is the post-colonial, multilingual Ukrainian nation a holdover from the past, or does it hold some promise for the future?

The Making of Modern Ukraine will be added to our collection of Free Online History Courses, a subset of our meta collection: 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

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Comments (16)
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  • Adrian says:

    I saw the first two lectures and was a lot of context with little content.

  • Sandra says:

    The Syllabus sets forth the required reading that provides the content. The prof is providing the context that you can’t get just by reading.

  • Peter Kussell says:

    Where can we get the required reading you mention. I didn’t see any links or guide on how to get to it, except for being a Yale student in the course.

  • Stanley Bernold says:

    The required reading is in the Course Syllabus. Unfortunately, that syllabus is only available to Yalies. Luckily for you, I am an ancient Yalie (Ph.D. 63) and can email you a text copy if you promise not to tell anyone where/how you got it.

  • Denise says:

    Not true. The syllabus is available to all. (Why would Prof. Snyder make the lectures available but not the syllabus? Think about it . . . )

    Link to the syllabus here:

  • Julie Steinhilber says:

    Snyder pretty much says up front you’ll be lost if you don’t do the required reading. There’s like nine books on the reading list. Would anyone attempt to listen to some 27 lectures without the required reading?

  • Kyle S says:

    Since we’re liberated from the required reading, is anybody keeping a list of literature he mentions in lectures? So far I’ve got:

    Heart of Darkness
    Canturbury Tales
    Ovid’s Metamorphises
    Icelandic Sagas

    I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch.

  • Kyle S says:

    I mean, I’ve got a job and a family and not a whole ton of time to take classes. But I also want to get a serious historian’s explanation of how that part of the world became what it is today. So, in the time it takes me to clean up the kitchen in the evening, if I can listen to a lecture… I mean, I’m not trying to pass the final. So, no. Not doing the reading. And so far, I’m getting what I want to get, and enjoying the lectures. I also don’t plan on writing any term papers.

  • Stanley Bernold says:

    I understand your time constraints. But you are missing out on some fascinating reading. You might want to build a list that you can read in future, at your leisure. I recommend “Black Sea” and “The Red Prince” in particular. One of the joys of attending Yale is to get the professors’ reading recommendations. Timothy Snyder’s “required” and recommended lists are worthwhile, and his own books are terrific.

  • Kyle S says:

    Thanks! I’d definitely love to do some of it some day. I’ve read Black Earth, and I’ve found his work really engaging. Right now I’m able to occasionally Wikipedia some of the names that he mentions just to get a bio. When I have time to learn a lot, I’ll learn a lot. For nos, I’ll learn a little.

  • Richard McBee says:

    He’d do a lot better to state his three part story of nations and get onto the Ukranian idea of their story versus the Russian story of Ukraine, versus the Historical 19th century of Ukraine versus the prehistorical story of Ukraine to give an overall look at the hypocracy of the political stories of the leaders who are trying to justify their programs, wars, …. A lot of fluff in the lecture.

  • Richard McBee says:

    If you don’t want to cover all of history, just go back to the Stories of Stalin and Hitler during the period of 1930 – 1945 and look at their justifications for the Ukraine and their justificationws of why it was OK to kill off some 30+ million people by starvation and mass murders for their own political reasons in the Ukraine. Pretty obvious that wew can tell the stroy we want and if enough people believe it, Bingo! you can do whatever you danged well want with the country and the people.

  • Seda Binbasgil says:

    Are there transcriptions of Snyder’s lectures…like the rest of the yale online courses?

  • Ashley Upshall says:

    These are a wonderful series of lectures. Thank you for making them available.

  • Tom Keefe says:

    Fascinating detail, even without the reading.
    As an old Yalie (’71) I’m curious where the classroom is that we’re watching Tim Snyder deliver these lectures in?
    In addition to being a remarkable intellectual experience for all of us listening, it’s a great advertisement for the high-quality teaching that occurs at a great University. This is a rare look at what a great education looks like. Thanks for making it available to all.

  • David Streckuss says:

    I did a binge and partook of all the lectures in a couple days. The course ought to be required viewing by all Americans before anyone feels they need to opine on the subject/current circumstance in Ukraine. Thank you.

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