The City: a locus of Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian encounter with a focus on Ukraine

Publication date 25.04.2023
Prof. Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

This intensive 5-lecture mini-course (12 academic hours) takes a close look at various urban centers (sometimes the shtetl-like and sometimes the city-like) that shaped Jewish-Polish-Ukrainian cultural encounters that inspired the rising literary figures to explore East European multi-cultural urban legacy and make this legacy central in their creative writing. Students will explore various forms of East European urban culture—a shtetl (Chortkiv and Berdychiv), a provincial center (Chernivtsi and Ternopil), a city (Kyiv), a metropolis with a strong East European diaspora presence (Montreal and New York). This course will provide students with methodological tools at the intersection of the literary and cultural studies, urban studies, and social history.

This course forms a part of Jewish History, Multiethnic Past, and Common Heritage: Urban Experience in Eastern Europe summer school.

A Marketplace in Berdychiv: Polish, Jewish, and Ukrainian interaction

Although Russian empire swallowed 66 percent of Polish territory and established its control over the former eastern Polish borderlands (Ukraine, Lithuania, Belorussia), most of the market towns—the shtetls– in the new Russia’s western borderlands remained in private possession of the Polish magnates. The market place was the economic and cultural center of the shtetl. Taking Berdychiv (owned by the Radzivills) as a case study, this session will discuss forms of economic, linguistic, and cultural interactions between Russia administration, Ukrainian peasants, Polish magnates and Jewish urban dwellers—all competing for the control of the marketplace.

Readings: YPS, The Golden Age Shtetl (Chapters 2, 3, 4, pp. 57-149)

From Uman through Montreal to Kyiv: the global revolution of Ivan Kulyk

From the Chervonohrad bookbinding shop to Kyiv-based semiotics: the avatars of Leonid Pervomaisky

From the Chernivtsi theater to a Jewish-Ukrainian Messianism

Chortkiv, Ternopil, New York: Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians in Vasyl Makhno’s prose and poetry