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SOC2084 : Social Invention of Central Europe

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Dariusz Gafijczuk
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1. To introduce students to key aspects and debates surrounding the construction of social spaces and
identities from contemporary and historical perspectives, particularly in relation to Central Europe.
2. To encourage students to engage with the questions around the construction of collective identities.
3. To look at the region of Central Europe from a wider contemporary European perspective.
4. To reflect on ways in which collective social identities, such as nationalism and regionalism, are
full of ambiguities and contradictions.
5. To explore relationships between history, culture and society in creating and maintaining collective

Summary of Themes:

1. Introduction to the theoretical and historical context of the idea of Europe and the concept of
2. Imagined Geographies – the Ambivalence of Europe
3. Imagined Geographies – porous Territories
4. Construction of Centres – The Self
5. Construction of Centres – Tradition
6. Designing the Nation
7. The Tragedy of Central Europe
8. The Invention of Mitteleuropa
9. Production of Space
10.Pure and Impure Identity: The Eulogy for Sarajevo (1993)

Outline Of Syllabus

This aim of this module is to introduce students to the complexities and dynamics underpinning the invention of geo-political regions and collective identities, such as the notion of Europe and the region of Central Europe. The module will explore the relationship between history, culture and society focusing particularly on the notion of European/Central European identity. Students will encounter a variety of innovative approaches and problems in relation to cultural history and sociology, investigating the construction of a specific place and space, and learning about parallels between past and present, as well as issues that are unique to Europe and its centre as an imagined community. Special attention will be paid to how, historically speaking, places and localities including the idea of a nation, have always been a form of design – of perceptions, perspectives and ‘structures of feeling’.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1641:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The 2 hour lecture slot is intended to combine substantive materials with illustrative examples. Seminars will focus on reading, discussion and exercises set by the module leader.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M602,500 words
Essay1A401,500 - on a European region, tradition or collective identity, investigate its creation/invention.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MEssay Plan
Essay1MEssay Plan
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay and the case study will test and encourage students to critically engage with cultural and social realities – past and present. They will also encourage direct, creative engagement with core concepts surrounding identity construction and its relationship to social environments, including physical spaces.

The essay will give students the opportunity to explore more formal conceptualizations of collective identity as well as sharpen their analytical skills by engaging with a theme in-depth.

The case study will provide students with factual/historical information in relation to one of the Central European identities/cultures which can then be affectively used in the final essay, as support materials for more theoretical discussion.

Reading Lists