Eliza Ablovatski joined the Kenyon history department in 2003, after graduate work in East Central European history at Columbia University and research and fellowships in Munich and Berlin, Germany and Budapest, Hungary. She teaches classes on Europe from 1500 to the present, focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Germany, Russia, the Habsburg Monarchy, film, nationalism and identity, gender, race and the interwar period.
Her dissertation and first book, "Revolution and Political Violence in Central Europe: The Deluge of 1919" focus on the revolutionary upheavals in Munich and Budapest following the First World War and their relationship to political violence and antisemitism. She is currently researching the occupation of Austria (1945-1955) at the end of the Second World War and the nuclear idea in postwar Europe. She has also researched and written extensively on the history of Jews in the former Habsburg regional capital of Czernowitz (now Ukraine).
Areas of Expertise
Modern Europe, especially Germany and Central/East Central Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; European Jewish and women's history; East European and German film and literature, socialism, war and revolution.
2005 — Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University
1998 — Master of Philosophy from Columbia University
1996 — Master of Arts from Columbia University
1993 — Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College
Courses Recently Taught
The European continent is incredibly diverse: geographically, culturally, economically, ethnically and politically (to name only the most obvious factors). Throughout the semester we will explore this diversity of experiences since the end of the 18th century. We will look at issues of race, class and gender, as well as violence, poverty, faith, nationalism, technology and art. We will read novels and memoirs, watch films and listen to music as we hone our historical knowledge and sensibilities regarding modern Europe, its peoples and its governments. We will examine the fates of a variety of nations, using examples from across the continent. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.
As a political entity, the aggregation of central European lands ruled from Vienna for almost four centuries constitutes the strangest major power on the European scene in the past 500 years. Alone among the great states of Europe, the Habsburg realm accepted cultural heterogeneity and actively sought to avoid war. This course will assess the Habsburg experiment in political and cultural multiculturalism, seeking finally to account for the empire's inability to survive the tensions of the 20th century. Among the subjects to be considered are: Vienna as the cultural capital of Europe, the role of language in politics, the creative rivalry between Prague and Vienna, the emergence and character of nationalism, the postwar successor states, and the concept of Central Europe. The course will involve lectures and discussions. This counts toward the premodern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the premodern requirement for the minor. No knowledge of German is required. No prerequisite.
Through lectures and discussions, we will cover European women's history from the Reformation and Enlightenment up through the late 20th century and the questions raised by the end of the Soviet system. We will look at women’s participation in the work force and in revolutionary movements, their fight for political emancipation and equality, and their relationship to war and racism, as well as study the changing ideas of womanhood, gender and family throughout modern European history. This counts toward the modern and women and gender requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor.
This survey of the history of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union in the modern era will introduce students to the region, familiarize them with the major periods of modern Russian history and help them to understand some of the important historical issues and debates. Students should develop an appreciation for the ethnic, social and cultural diversity of both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as well as for the ways in which political events shaped the personal lives of the country's population. Though focusing on 20th-century history, this course will begin with an introduction to the social structures, ethnic composition and political problems of the late Russian Empire. We will cover the Russian Revolution and early Soviet history, then turn our attention to Stalinism, collectivization, terror and the Second World War. In the postwar era, we will examine the failure of the Khrushchev reforms and the period of stagnation under Brezhnev, before turning to Gorbachev and the reforms of perestroika. At the end of the semester, we will approach the end of the Soviet Union and its legacy for the many successor states (not only Russia). Although organized along the lines of political periodization, the class will emphasize the perspectives of social and ethnic diversity as well as culture and gender. We will look at art, literature and music, and we will attend film screenings outside of class. Historical background in modern European history is recommended. Russian and other regional language skills are welcomed. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the modern requirement for the minor.
Modern German history is often seen as a tension between the land of the "poets and thinkers" (Dichter und Denker) and the "land of the murderers and executioners" (Mörder und Henker). In this class, we will use the perspectives of gender, race and class to explore and illuminate the main themes and topics in modern German history, beginning with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, up to reunification and European Union membership in the present. German language is not required. One unit of history, English or modern languages is recommended. This counts toward the modern and women and gender requirements for the major and the modern requirement for minor. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
One hundred years ago, the European powers went to war over dynastic honor after the heir to the Habsburg throne was assassinated in Sarajevo. Four years later, all the European empires had fallen to revolution and defeat and Europe was transformed. The war inspired not only socialist revolutions but also revolutions in technology, art and daily life. We will look at the experience of soldiers fighting and new technologies of warfare; civilian suffering, hunger and political radicalization; modernist art and music, and postwar experiments in urban architecture; women's emancipation; and political violence and ethnic cleansing. This upper-level seminar will examine the war, its causes, course and consequences, with a special emphasis on historiography, the way the war was interpreted at the time and over the century since. Students will work with a variety of primary sources and conduct their own research project over the course of the semester. The course is intended for advanced history students, but students from other disciplines with an interest in the time period are welcome. Students without a modern Europe or an equivalent history course should contact the professor about their preparedness. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every three years.
This course will examine the explosion of creativity and radicalism in late Habsburg society, focusing on the capital city Vienna. In the years before and after 1900, Vienna was a vibrant city, home to many of the most important creators of early 20th-century modern culture, among them not only Freud but also such figures as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner, Karl Kraus, Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Robert Musil, Theodor Herzl, Otto Bauer, Karl Lueger, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg, to name only a few. Taking the multilingual, multireligious, multiethnic Habsburg monarchy as our base, we will follow developments in the fields of psychology, medicine, literature, architecture, art and music, putting them into the context of important political and social movements like socialism, nationalism, anti-Semitism and liberalism. This seminar is designed for junior and senior history majors with a background in European history. However, non-majors with knowledge of or interest in music, art history or German literature are strongly encouraged to join. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.
This seminar introduces students to the German National Socialist regime, to major historical debates in the field, and to methods of historical research and writing. We begin with the rise of the NS party and the problems of the Weimar Republic in the late 1920s and end with the defeat of Germany and its military occupation after May 1945, looking at major questions including anti-Semitism, Nazi party support, collaboration, terror, and the role of gender, class and sexuality. The course uses the perspective of daily life to look at the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust through sources from below, and the work of historians who use these sources. Students will become familiar with the major events of the period and will explore many historical debates in depth in the seminar. They will also explore a topic of their own choosing through progressive assignments, developing their skills in research and analysis. Prior coursework in European history is strongly recommended. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course will look at the history of the Soviet Union and the post-1945 German and Eastern European socialist states with a concentration on films made in these countries, as well as films made elsewhere or later about life under state socialism. We will focus on a few key eras and topics, such as World War II films, Stalinism/socialist realism, the Thaw, the position of women in socialist society and generational conflict. Students will be required to attend a weekly film screening as well as participate in class discussion. During the semester, each student may pick a topic for an in-depth research project. Previous coursework in European history recommended. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
Why do people fight for change? What is the difference between a “revolt” or “rebellion” and a “revolution,” and who decides which is remembered as which? In this seminar we will investigate several aspects of revolution and revolutionary ideas in modern Europe, beginning with the era of the French/American/Haitian revolutions, when it seemed Europeans had begun to think of society as an object to be shaped and created through human thought and action rather than passively received or experienced. Revolution is naturally a liminal moment – the old order has been torn down, is in ruins (or so it seems) and the new is still uncertain. In such moments, images of a “topsy-turvy” world fly to the forefront, and it is not primarily the topics of economic or political transformation which serve as fodder for the imagination, but rather the breaking of taboos – gender hierarchies overturned, ritual sacrifices and iconoclasm. Revolutionary archetypes of a world overturned helped to determine the behavior of participants and the perceptions of observers on both sides of the revolutionary divides of 19th and 20th century Europe. Along with the inspiration or temptation of revolution came its twin or mirror, fear and the desire to prevent revolution, to protect the social order from radical transformation, and both opponents and supporters of revolutionary change turned to political violence. Students will examine the legacy of the revolutionary idea through study of successful and failed revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries and the history of radical and revolutionary political movements and will conduct research on related topics. This counts toward the seminar, modern and Europe/America requirements for the major.
The goal of this course is to give each history major the experience of a sustained, independent research project, including formulating a historical question, considering methods, devising a research strategy, locating and critically evaluating primary and secondary sources, placing evidence in context, shaping an interpretation and presenting documented results. Research topics will be selected by students in consultation with the instructor. Classes will involve student presentations on various stages of their work and mutual critiques, as well as discussions of issues of common interest, such as methods and bibliography. Open only to senior history majors. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: HIST 387. Offered every fall.
The honors candidates enrolled in this course will devote their time to the research and writing of their honors theses under the direct supervision of a history faculty member. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to HIST 498Y for the spring semester. Permission of instructor and department chair required. Prerequisite: HIST 387.
The honors candidates enrolled in this course will devote their time to the research and writing of their honors theses under the direct supervision of a history faculty member. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Permission of instructor and department chair required. Prerequisite: HIST 387.
This course presents an interdisciplinary inquiry into the destruction of European Jewry during World War II. How was it that in the 20th century, in the midst of civilized Europe, a policy of genocide was formulated and systematically implemented? We will examine the Holocaust within the contexts of modern European history, Nazi ideology and practice, the Jewish experience in Europe, the history of anti-Semitism and the psychology of human behavior. Data will be drawn from films, literature, art, memoirs, theology and historical investigations. An ongoing concern of the course will be the significance of the Holocaust in political discourse and in our own thinking as individuals. When a faculty member from religious studies, modern languages and literatures (German) or history is teaching the course, it counts toward the history, German or religious studies majors.