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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Leda Cooks

Second Advisor

Stephen Olbrys Gencarella

Third Advisor

Donna LeCourt

Subject Categories

Critical and Cultural Studies


Employing a version of the Critical Discourse Analysis methodology that privileges close textual readings, I examine in this dissertation the manner in which contemporary Romanian history textbooks put forward an essentialist view of ethnonational identity by tracing through history the development of a putatively homogenous “proto-Romanian” entity. I seek to show how the “Getae-Dacian” and “Daco-Roman” identity categories acquired their thing-ness and their boundaries as a result of deliberate rhetorical work performed by Romanian historiographers with the help of such heuristics as “Romanization,” “ethnogenesis” and the nation-as-family metaphor. I also scrutinize how the textbooks treat the two ancient texts that contain some of the earliest references to the “Getae” and the “Dacians” (that is, Herodotus’s Histories and Strabo’s Geography), with a focus on metadiscursive elements dealing with source attribution and credibility. My data consists of several dozen history textbooks written for grades 4th through 12th, as well as a handful of seminal works of historiography that have set the general tone of the Romanian historical narrative between the two world wars, during the Communist period, and after 1989. My critique of the historical narrative pushed by these textbooks is complemented by a series of proposals consisting of strategies meant to stimulate the student-readers’ critical thinking abilities with regards to the politically sensitive issues of ethnic identity, ancestry and rights. These proposals range from different word choices, to the liberal use of metalanguage, to the advocating of a joint Romanian-Hungarian textbook. The wider goal of this critical pedagogy project is to steer the Romanian history textbook towards the promotion of an open-ended national identity narrative that emphasizes potentialities rather than clarities, beginnings rather than closures, ambiguity and paradox rather than linearity and clarity, and choice rather than predestination.