Honors | German Cultural History (HON)
H303 | 21350 | William Rasch

MW 9:30-10:45am

This course will look at a variety of ways Europe and/or European
nation-states (e.g. Germany) have constructed identities. In
particular, we will look at how political and cultural identities –
the idea of “Europe” or of “Germany” – are fashioned in terms of
what and who they are not.  In other words, we will examine in what
way “selves” are determine by the idea of their “others,”
or “friends” by their “enemies.”  The course will be organized in
approximately five clusters: two will focus on the medieval
opposition of Christianity and Islam (in Spain and during the era of
the Crusades), one on the European conquest of the “New World,” and
one on the early 19th-century construction of German identity in
opposition to Napoleon and the French.  The final cluster will look
at the idea of “perpetual peace” as articulated by Kant and both
propagated and critiqued by contemporary thinkers.
The course will be based on the careful reading and discussion of
literary, historical, theological, and philosophical texts.
Students will also be encouraged to locate and introduce related
material. Requirements include active participation in discussion,
regular short writing assignments, and a final project to be
determined (which might include the writing of a paper, the teaching
of a class session, taking an exam, or possibly other
The purpose of the class is at least twofold: to make ourselves
aware of certain recurrent patterns in European history and give us
a historically and theoretically rich background understanding of
contemporary Europe’s attempt to form, as the saying goes, “a more
perfect union.”