. . . provides both an overview of the past two centuries of European history and an introduction to the multi-disciplinary study of culture, politics, and society. How have Europeans defined themselves (and others) during the past 200 years? What have been the determining features of "European" identity, and how has this identity related to other categories—national, gender, class, religious—into which human beings have been grouped? What, if anything, makes Europe different from the rest of the world? What, if anything, separates "modern" Europe from earlier eras?

Questions such as these are not always easy to answer and students will need to become comfortable both with conceptual abstractions and with historical specifics. In asking these questions, we will give special attention to how abstractions (such as "national identity") have become real in people's lives. Ranging from the organization of self-conscious political or artistic movements (such as socialism or Modernism) to the development of new means of communication and transportation, the course focuses throughout on social practices and cultural techniques. Students are expected to engage actively with materials presented and to work closely with a range of primary sources, including memoirs, political tracts, images, and works of fiction.

syllabus handout [pdf]

course schedule RLS homepage