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2021 Spring


Gerald Power
For information about registration please contact our admissions.

Politics, economics and the church in Western and Central Europe, Early Modern period: Renaissance humanism, the Reformation (Lutheranism/Calvinism), the Counter-Reformation, ritual, magic and the Sacred in the Early Modern Period, territorial confessionalism, Religious wars, tolerance and Intolerance, Enlightenment and Absolutism, French Revolution, Industrial Revolution, nationalism and imperialism, the First World War, Europe after the War, World War II in Europe, the Soviet experiment, post-World War II.

Here is the course outline:

1. Introduction

Students will receive an introduction to the course aims, structure and methods of evaluation. History as academic discipline will be discussed. Instructor will divide the class into groups for the seminars and group presentations.

2. The Late Medieval World and the Renaissance

This module looks at the civilization of 15th-century Europe, and the military, political, religious and social tensions embodied within it.

3. The Reformation & Counter-Reformation Part I

Seminar Session: This is the first part of an intensive examination of the religious crises in Europe of the early modern period: the Reformation. The aim is to highlight the diverse responses of early modern states, societies and individuals to the theological disputes which threatened the fabric of European civilization from the 16th to the mid-17th centuries.

4. The Reformation & Counter-Reformation Part II

Lecture Session: This first half of this session is devoted to the Thirty Years War, considering the religious and secular dimensions and suggesting how the awful conflict connects to the so-called Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment. This is followed by Group A’s presentation.

5. Absolutism and Enlightenment

Seminar Session: The unit looks at the rise of the absolutist state in France and much of the rest of Europe including Russia, contrasting this particular form of early “modernity” with the Dutch Republic and the limited monarchy of Great Britain. The intellectual revolution known as the Enlightenment is explored through a brief examination of the writings of some of its principal representatives and the consequences of these ideas.

6. The French Revolution and Revolutionary Europe

Seminar Session: This module looks at how a political reform movement in France turned that country into creative, idealistic and bloody turmoil, and before long influenced the rest of continent with passionate ideas of liberalism, nationalism, socialism and conservatism.

7. The Industrial Revolution

Lecture Session: The first half of the session is a lecture on the Industrial Revolution – among the most formative processes in European history. And it was a process: a series of largely uncoordinated social, economic and technological changes which transformed much of the world we live in. This is followed by Group B’s presentation.

8. Progress and Reaction in 19th-century Europe

Lecture Session: The first half of the session is a lecture on post-Napoleonic Europe. In many ways, this period was about a fundamental clash between the liberal heirs of the Enlightenment and French Revolution and the illiberal authorities entrenched across much of the continent. Liberalism – the quest for constitutional government and individual rights – was also closely connected to nationalism. Tensions reached fever-pitch in the 1848 ‘spring of nations’, which is discussed by Group C in the second half.

9. The First World War Era Part I

Seminar Session: The First World War was a decisive watershed in the history of European civilization. In its wake, revolutions of the Left and the Right took place; four empires fell; new nations rose in their place, and old nations reappeared on the map. The session looks at the major causes and the course of the First World War.

10. The First World War Era Part II

Lecture Session: Lecture on the outcomes and legacies of the First World War, the most enduring and vital of which include the violent advent of Communist rule in Russia and the Paris Peace Conference, the failed attempt at ensuring that World War I was the ‘war to end all wars’.

11. Class 11 - Fascism and the Radical Right in the Inter-War Period, 1919-39

This module introduces the major fascist movements which swept Europe in the inter-war period. Nazism will be the particular focus of the lesson.

12. The Second World War, 1939-1945

Lecture Session: The lecture looks at the causes, course and consequences of the most devastating conflict in human history – the Second World War, 1939-1945, before Group D examines in detail the reasons for the Allied victory.

13. Postwar Europe: Division to Unity

Seminar Session: The Cold War was the single greatest fact of life in Europe after World War II. This session looks at the establishment of Communist regimes and on contrasting conditions between East and West Europe. Yet we should not be blind to some commonalities between both sides of the Iron Curtain, such as youth movements and a culture of protest and dissent. Eventually, dissent helped to bring down Communist rule in the East.

14. Review

A final session will explore the major themes addressed in the course, and suggest ways of approaching contemporary European history.

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