Oct. 9 Strickland lecture tackles Ukraine-Russia; ...

Oct. 9 Strickland lecture tackles Ukraine-Russia; sneak peek also for Ken Burns ‘American Buffalo’ doc

An award-winning author and professor of history and Slavic studies will explain the conflict between Ukraine and Russia Monday, Oct. 9, at Middle Tennessee State University’s free Strickland Visiting Scholar Lecture Series.

Dr. Serhy Yekelchyk

A professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Serhy Yekelchyk is a Ukrainian native and president of the Canadian Association for Ukrainian Studies. He will speak on “The War Over History or the War Over Democracy? Making Sense of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine” at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 in the State Farm Room of the Business and Aerospace Building, 1642 MTSU Blvd.

“Dr. Yekelchyk is one of the world’s leading experts on Soviet and Ukrainian history,” said history professor Lynn Nelson, Strickland Lecture chair. “His talk will give members of the MTSU community the chance to understand the historical background to the current conflict in the region.”

As the world focuses on battles and civilian casualties in Russia’s war on sovereign Ukraine, Yekelchyk believes there is a need to understand the region’s history to comprehend why troops invaded in February 2022.

During his talk, Yekelchyk will trace the historical origins of Russia’s unwillingness to accept an independent Ukrainian state. The historian will also explain how the country became the battleground in the centuries-long Russian crusade against Western influences, including the concept of democracy.

Book cover for “Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation,” by Serhy Yekelchyk (Image courtesy Oxford Press)

Born and educated in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, Yekelchyk has written extensively about the history of modern Ukrainian history, Russo-Ukrainian relations and Stalinism.

Yekelchyk received a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, where his dissertation analyzed representations of the past in Stalinist culture with special emphasis on Soviet Ukraine. 

His monograph, “Stalin’s Citizens: Everyday Politics in the Wake of Total War,” was the recipient of the Best Book Award from the American Association for Ukrainian Studies, and its Ukrainian translation in 2019 received a special diploma of the Lviv Book Forum. His survey of Ukrainian history, “Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation,” was Choice Magazine’s Book of the Year and went on to be translated into five languages.

Yekelchyk is currently working on the third, considerably expanded, edition of his popular book about the Euromaidan Revolution and Russian aggression in Ukraine, “Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know.”

Those unable to attend the lecture in person can watch live online via True Blue TV at

MTSU Strickland Visiting Scholar Lecture Series logo (including Department of History)

MTSU’s Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts sponsors the twice-yearly Strickland Lecture series. The Strickland Visiting Scholar Series allows MTSU students to meet with renowned scholars whose expertise spans a variety of historical issues.

The Strickland family established the program in memory of Roscoe Lee Strickland Jr., a longtime professor of European history at MTSU and the first president of the university’s Faculty Senate.

‘The American Buffalo’ sneak peek

Before Yekelchyk’s lecture and in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, which is Oct. 9, the College of Liberal Arts and Department of History will present a program that gives a sneak peek of Ken Burns’ new documentary, “The American Buffalo,” starting at 6:30 p.m. in the State Farm Room of BAS.

Becky Magura

MTSU is a presenting partner for the two-part, four-hour film, which premieres on Nashville Public Television at 7 p.m. Oct. 16-17. NPT’s president and CEO Becky Magura will give a short talk before the 20-minute showing.

“The American Buffalo” takes viewers on a journey through more than 10,000 years of North American history, tracing the animal’s evolution, significance to the Indigenous people and the efforts to bring the magnificent mammals back from the brink of extinction.

A searchable campus parking map is available at

For more information about this lecture, contact MTSU’s Department of History at 615-898-5798 or visit For more details about the documentary,

— Nany DeGennaro (