Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (BOLLI)

Modern Greece Revisited: A Journey through Domestic Struggles and Foreign Affairs

Course Number


Study Group Leader (SGL)

Dr. Athanasios Grammenos


This course will take place virtually on Zoom. Participation requires a device (ideally a computer or tablet, rather than a cell phone) with a camera and microphone in good working order and basic familiarity with using Zoom and accessing email.

10-Week Course

Feb. 27 - May 7. No Class April 23.


What do most foreigners know about Greece, beyond a blend of its glorious ancient past, captivating landscapes, and rich cultural heritage?  If the answer is “little,” then the country’s 20th century deserves to be studied as a political thriller. Despite robust alignment with the West, Greek domestic history was anything but serene and peaceful; it suffered schisms, conspiracies, dictatorships, and foreign interference. Nonetheless, in 1974 Greece became a liberal democracy and soon after it joined the European Communities (today’s EU). This course explores why Greece is and will remain important for the US, in geopolitical terms. We will see how Greece reached its current territorial boundaries and how its political and ethnic identities were shaped. Then we will examine its struggles and challenges, including the strong and decisive American presence during the years of the Greek military regime. In addition, we will look at a close-up account of the latest phase in Greece’s history, known as “Metapolitefsi.” The last part of the course will be dedicated to contemporary Greece and its EU membership. Originally, conversion to the euro performed well in Greece, promising political and economic development. However, the sovereign debt crisis and the collateral damage of the 2008 global fiscal crisis dealt a strong blow to Greece’s finances. The entire EU scapegoated the country and its people, with Berlin and Brussels calling  out to teach those “prodigal'' Greeks a lesson. In this course, we will seek to understand the making of contemporary Greece.

Group Leadership Style

Roughly the same amount of lecture and discussion.

Course Materials

The Greek Connection: The Life of Elias Demetracopoulos and the Untold Story of Watergate by Barron, James H. Brooklyn and London: Melville House, 2020. The Greeks: A Global History by Beaton, Roderick. New York: Basic Books, 2021 Orthodox American; Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America in Greek American Relations (1959-1996) by Thessaloniki: Epikentro, 2018. [Free in my Academia Page] Additional materials will be provided on a class website or by email links.

Preparation Time

1-2 hours in preparation time/week.


Athanasios Grammenos (PhD) is an instructor and researcher of International Relations and History. He is a fellow researcher at Aristotle University and has taught at Piraeus University. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in high impact factor journals and the Press in English, Greek and German. He is a past Library Fellow of Sacramento State University and a recipient of a NATO scholarship from the Greek Foreign Ministry. He is the author of the book, Orthodox American. He has edited the book The Revolution of 1821 and Modern Greece and published the poetry collection Margaron.