The ascendency of Europe relative to other cultural and political entities from the beginning of the modern period through the early 20th century is widely acknowledged, sometimes in celebratory tones, at others with extreme bitterness and anger. This course will examine the complex legacy of Europe’s role in the development of the modern world. We will begin with the upheaval of the late 18th century when the French monarchy was consumed by revolution and a new political order was founded. We will then look at the intellectual challenge posed by the Enlightenment, the reshaping of Europe in the age of Napoleon, imperialism and “great power” politics, the experimentalism of French and German culture that found its centres in Paris and Berlin, the horrors of the two World Wars, the paranoia and anxiety of the Cold War period, and the drama and promise of 1989, the year that communism began to fall in central and eastern Europe. We will explore how Europe’s greatest achievements – political, scientific, technological, intellectual – often accompanied or at times even facilitated (directly or indirectly) the worst of its horrors and injustices. The purpose of looking at the correlation of progressive achievement with crimes, injustices, and various full-blown catastrophes will be to show how the revolutionary experiments that began in modern Europe also initiated a pattern of destabilization in longstanding cultural, economic, social, and political institutions. Note: this course will have a study-abroad component available for students that will involve a trip to one or more European countries.
In the winter semester, this course also offers students an optional intensive study-abroad package, whereby students can complete a portion of their course work while attending a two-week tour of Europe (France/Germany). The tours will take place during the two weeks following the winter semester, from May 3 to May 16, 2010.
Note: Students are not required to participate in the study-abroad component of this course. For those who are interested, further details regarding the study-abroad component will be provided in the first week of class.