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Serhy Yekelchyck addressed a University of Delaware audience on Oct. 2. A noted author and historian, Yekelchyk wrote eight books on modern Ukrainian history and Russo-Ukrainian relations, including the award-winning Stalin’s Citizens: Everyday Politics in the Wake of Total War.
It is essential to educate the public on how Ukrainian and Russian history are different, and why Ukraine matters. That was the message of award-winning author and historian Serhy Yekelchyk, who visited the University of Delaware on Oct. 2. The native Ukrainian addressed an audience of students, faculty and community members, offering a historical perspective of both countries while discussing the Ukraine War. To recognize National Arts and Humanities Month in October, the Jewish Studies and European Studies programs partnered with the Department of History to host the talk as part of the department's 2023–2024 History Workshop series.
Yekelchyk is a professor of history and Slavic studies at the University of Victoria in Canada. He wrote eight books on modern Ukrainian history and Russo-Ukrainian relations, including the award-winning Stalin’s Citizens: Everyday Politics in the Wake of Total War (Oxford University Press, 2014). His survey of Ukrainian history, Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation (Oxford University Press, 2007), was Choice Magazine's Book of the Year and went on to be translated into five languages. Yekelchyk is current president of the Canadian Association for Ukrainian Studies.
With his personal and academic background, Yekelchyck's lecture provided a unique insight into the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yekelchyk stressed the importance of education in combating Russian propaganda. He noted a “near absence of Ukrainian history in North America," and explained the Western media is often unreliable when reporting on the conflict and its causes.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been on a path to take back its own identity. Yekelchyck argued that despite this, Putin “decided that Ukraine is not a real state," comparing his views and actions to Hitler during WWII. Putin expected Russian forces would “kick in the door with their boot," causing the country to collapse at the start of the invasion in February 2022. Almost two years later, the war rages on.
Ironically, this indomitable spirit of Ukraine was a major impetus for Putin's invasion. Yekelchyk explained that two anti-government Ukrainian revolutions in 2004 and 2014 have led Putin to view Ukraine as a direct threat to Russian sovereignty. Putin now believes that there is a “western conspiracy to spread democracy" and that “Ukraine is contaminated," said Yekelchyk. To end the war, “Putin has to go and the Russian public have to accept that."
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The University of Delaware's programs in Jewish Studies and European Studies bring an interdisciplinary approach to the study of language, literature and history. Students can minor in Jewish Studies, while European Studies students can earn a minor or major.
Jewish Studies courses explore 2,000 years of a rich heritage and civilization, from its ancient origins to contemporary forms in the United States, Israel and in communities around the world. The study of Jewish history and culture provides a window for engaging with profound questions about modernity, including the impact of modernization on traditional Jewish life and the critical contributions that Jews have made to the modern world.
The University's Special Collections at Morris Library provides students and faculty with rare access to the papers of world-famous American Jewish writers, including Allen Ginsberg, Arthur Miller, Philip Roth and Gertrude Stein. The Program is housed in the Frank and Yetta Chaiken Center for Jewish Studies and was endowed with a generous gift by the Chaikens.
The Bachelor of Arts in European Studies blends the humanities and the social sciences. Offered jointly by the Departments of Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, and Political Science, the major combines language training with courses in history, politics, and literature.
It offers students a comprehensive knowledge of a particular European country and culture (e.g. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia) within a broader European context. Students can design their own curricula through elective courses and study abroad opportunities. The European Studies major prepares students for graduate school, careers in government or other international agencies, international law, or commercial enterprises with an international orientation.