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2022 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. Class 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 Group Presentations and Discussion assignments.

2. Class 2 - The Late Medieval World and the Renaissance

Seminar Session: This module looks 15th- and 16th-century- Europe, beginning by considering what is meant by concepts like ‘state’, ‘order’, ‘commonwealth’ and ‘nation’ during these centuries. We will then have discussion of the Italian Renaissance, based on the Merriman chapter, including considerations of how to define the Renaissance, humanism and the concept of the individual.

3. Class 3 - The Reformation and 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. Class 4 - The Reformation & Counter-Reformation Part II

Seminar Session: This session is devoted to discussing the era of religious war which rocked Europe from the later sixteenth to the mid- seventeenth centuries. We will also consider the ramifications of all this for the state in Europe, particularly in France, which lurched from being a ‘failed state’ to an effective ‘absolutist’ one.

5. Class 5 - Absolutism and Enlightenment

Lecture Session: The unit looks at the rise of the absolutist state in much 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 introduced.

6. Class 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. Class 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. Class 8 - Progress and Reaction in 19th-Century Europe: Nationalism, Socialism and Industrialization

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 ‘reactionary’ 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 among the issues discussed by Group C in the second half.

9. Class 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. Class 10 - The First World War Era Part II

Lecture Session: Discussion of 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 - Political Extremes in the Inter-War Period, 1919-39

Seminar Session This module looks at the extremism which came to dominate European political, economic and social life in the 1920s and 1930s, and considers the chief reasons for the breakdown of the Versailles System by 1939.

12. Class 12 - The Second World War, 1939-1945

Seminar Session: This discussion looks at the causes, course and consequences of the most devastating conflict in human, including a consideration of the Holocaust and the morality of Allied victory.

13. Class 13 - Cold War Europe, 1945-1989: From 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. Class 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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