History | After the Cataclysm: Legacies of WWI in Europe
J400 | 3890 | Roos


Above class open to majors only
Above class open to undergraduates only
J400: P-HIST J300

This class is not a course in military history; rather, it focuses
on the social, economic, political, and cultural legacies of World
War I for 1920s and 1930s Europe. It is hard to exaggerate the
importance of World War I as a watershed in twentieth-century
European history. The war wiped out a large portion of a generation
of young men; at the same time, it demanded great sacrifices from
the home front. Clear distinctions between soldiers’ and civilians’
importance for the war effort were blurred, as were established
notions of gender roles when women assumed responsibilities as
household heads and ammunition workers. World War I led to the
downfall of absolutist and semi-absolutist regimes in Russia,
Germany, and Austria-Hungary, and it spurred revolutionary uprisings
in many other European countries. While the 1920s saw important
advances in democratization (for instance, a number of European
countries granted women the suffrage after 1918), it also witnessed
the growth of extreme nationalism and the emergence of radically
anti-democratic movements and regimes like fascism. Similarly, in
the area of culture the 1920s were marked by stark contradictions
between avant-garde experimentation and the yearning for a return to
traditionalism. We will explore the war’s contradictory legacies for
European society, and the role of these tensions in the coming of
the Second World War.

Readings include, among others, David Clay Large, "Between Two
Fires: Europe’s Path in the 1930s"; and Jay Winter, "Sites of
Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural
Memory." Primary historical documents, scholarly essays, and other
shorter readings will be available as e-reserves.

Requirements: Regular attendance; several shorter writing
assignments; one 16-20 page essay.