Advanced Placement European History Theme

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Advanced Placement European History

Theme The study of European history introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live. Without this knowledge, we would lack the context for understanding the development of contemporary institutions, the role of continuity and change in present-day society and politics, and the evolution of current forms of artistic expression and intellectual discourse. In addition to providing a basic narrative of events and movements, the goals of AP European History are to develop (a) an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European history, (b) an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and (c) an ability to express historical understanding in writing.

Strand History

Topic Romanticism and Nationalism

In the early years of the 19th Century, as a result of the French Revolutionary period, Europeans departed from the universalist impulses of the Age of Reason to focus on the mysteries of nature. This spirit of Romanticism caused many to abandon the belief that the human mind could, through reason, grasp all knowledge. It also turned their attention away from the idea that through reason a single, ideal system of government or set of values could be introduced into Europe. Instead, each nation of Europeans began to reinvest themselves in the uniqueness of their ethnic heritage. This cultural nationalism in turn led to the emergency of political nationalism, in which each nation rejected outside rule in favor of self-governance; this movement nearly caused the collapse of the equilibrium established since the Congress of Vienna, caused some multinational empires to crumble, and brought together new states.


Weeks 22-24

Content Statement

1. The French Revolution served as a catalyst for change in the 19th Century in that it exposed the inherent weaknesses of absolutism and created a reaction against the values of the Age of Reason that the French had sought to impose throughout Europe.

Learning Targets:

 I can examine the critiques of the philosophy of the Age of Reason that gave rise to Romanticism during the 19th Century and describe Romanticism’s impact on European history and culture.

 I can explain the origins of nationalism and distinguish between cultural and political nationalism.

2. From 1820-1871 an upheaval against the political status quo resulted from the spirit of political nationalism; this upheaval drove change that took the form of liberal reforms and the creation of new nation-states.

Learning Targets:

 I can describe the successful nationalist revolutions of the early 19th Century.

 I can explain the conflict between the United Kingdom and the Irish and evaluate British policy toward the Irish through the 19th Century.

 I can describe the unsuccessful nationalist revolts of the mid-19th Century.

 I can describe the process by which foreign rulers were driven out of Italy by Italian nationalists.

 I can explain why Germany had not unified as a nation-state as late as the 1850s.

 I can describe the process whereby Germany became a united nation-state under Prussian leadership.

Content Elaborations

Europeans of the early/mid-19th Century had witnessed decades of warfare and the spread of an industrial/urban nightmare and regarded them, perhaps, as a product of “Age of Reason” philosophy run amok. This period thus saw a revolt against reason in favor of the idea that the human mind is not limitless in its capacity to understand the world; this “Romantic” outlook regarded the mysteries of nature as sacred and valued intuition and emotion over reason.

Meanwhile across Europe, wherever the ideas of the French Revolution had been carried by Napoléon, two concepts took root. One was a reaction against the universalizing impulse that sought to impose the reason-based French system on those whom Napoléon conquered. This was in accord with the Romantic philosophy and manifested itself in the elevation of all things local and organic over the universal and artificial. The other was a rejection of the default acceptance of monarchical rule as the natural order of things; some came to see the nation, not the monarch, as the true basis for governing authority and sought to liberate their nations from foreign monarchs to create self-governing nation-states.
Successful nationalist revolutions removed the Spanish from their American colonies, the Ottomans from Greece, and the Dutch from Belgium. The Magyars of Hungary, though they met with defeat in trying to form a state independent of the Habsburgs, were granted limited autonomy in a dual monarchy. Less success was found by the Poles and Romanians who saw their nationalist revolts crushed by the Russians, and the Irish, whose struggle against the British continued into the 20th Century. Italian nationalists led by Mazzini were defeated by the Austrians, French, and Spanish, but in mid-century Italy was liberated and united through the efforts of Camillo di Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi. While most of Germany was ruled by German princes, efforts to unite them into one state at the Frankfurt Assembly of 1849 failed. Only a policy of “blood and iron” allowed Prussia under the dictatorship of Otto von Bismarck to forcefully create a united German reich.

Content Vocabulary

 moral impulse  Second German Reich

 categorical imperative  kaiser

 Romanticism  John Locke

 “Noble Savage”  Essay Concerning Human

 Romantic gardens Understanding

 garden follies  Immanuel Kant

 Gothic Revival  Groundwork for the Metaphysics

 landscape of Morals

 nation  Jean-Jacques Rousseau

 cultural nationalism  J. M. W. Turner, “The Chain Pier”

 kultur vs. zivilization and “Weymouth Bay”

 folklore and history  John Constable, “The Cornfield”

 political nationalism and “The Haywain”

 nation-state  William Wordsworth,

 Young Europe “Tintern Abbey”

 creoles vs. peninsulares  John Keats

 “Americans” “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

 Monroe Doctrine  William Blake, “The Tiger”

 Philhellenes  Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

 Battle of Navarino  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 Walloons  Faust

 Treaty of London  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 Celts “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

 “The Pale” “Kubla Khan”

 Plantations  Johann Gottfried von Herder

 Jacobite Risings/Rebellions “Materials for the Philosophy of

 Battle of the Boyne the History of Mankind”

 Penal Laws  Guiseppe Mazzini

 Act of Union “On Nationality”

 Catholic Association  Ernst Moritz Arendt

 Catholic Emancipation “Was 1st das Deutschen

 Tithe War Vatterland?”

 Repeal Association  Simon Bolivar

 “Monster Meetings”  José de San Martín

 Young Ireland  Theodoros Kolokotronis

 Potato Blight and Famine  Leopold I

 Young Irish Disorders  Patricus (St. Patrick)

 Fenian rebels  Brian Boru

 Home Rule  John

 “Christ of Nations”  Henry VII

 Polish Revolt  Elizabeth I

 Liberal Revolt  Oliver Cromwell

 Magyar Revolt  James II

 Ausgleich/Dual Monarchy  Daniel O’Connell

 Carbonari  Sir Charles Trevalyan

 Giovane Italia  William Gladstone

 Austro-Sardinian War  Alexander Ypsilanti

 Redshirts  Prince Adam Czartoryski

 Seven Weeks’ War  Klemens von Metternich

 “Blut und Boden”  Franz Josef Habsburg

 Volk  Louis Kossuth

 German Confederation  Giuseppe Mazzini

 Zollverein  Camillo di Cavour

 Frankfurt Assembly  Il Risorgimento

 Prussian Constitution  Victor Emmanuel

 Realpolitik  Giuseppe Garibaldi

 Danish War  Frederick-Wilhelm IV

 non-aggression pact  Otto von Bismarck

 Treaty of Prague “Blood and Iron”

 Spanish succession crisis  Wilhelm I

 Ems Dispatch  Napoléon III

 Franco-Prussian War  Leopold Hohenzollern

 Battle of Sedan

Academic Vocabulary


 examine

 explain

Formative Assessments

Students are required to create a chapter outline or synopsis weekly that measures their comprehension of the major people, events, and trends that characterize the era or theme being studied during that portion of the unit. They may be quizzed or required to produce a written response to prompt. Evidence of students’ miscomprehension or lack of comprehension is addressed by the teacher in subsequent lessons.

Summative Assessments

Students are required to complete a series of multiple choice questions modeled after those which will appear on the AP European History Exam. In these, more than one plausible response is provided, and the student must distinguish the correct response from among the merely plausible. Students are also required to complete an essay that integrates content and concepts from throughout the unit into a coherent written argument. In the case of a document-based question, the student is required to also integrate evidence from a series of provided primary sources.


 Palmer, R. R., Colton, Joel, and Kramer, Lloyd, A History of the Modern World Tenth Edition

 Caldwell, Amy, Beeler, John, and Clark, Charles, ed., Sources of Western Society

 Davies, Norman, Europe: A History

 Davison, Michael Worth, ed., Everyday Life Through the Ages

 Fordham University, The Internet Modern History Sourcebook

 Lualdi, Katharine, ed., Sources of The Making of the West

 Sherman, Dennis, Western Civilization: Sources, Images, and Interpretations

 Tierney, Brian, Kagan, Donald, and Williams, L. Pearce, eds., Great Issues in Western Civilization

 Boorstin, Daniel J., The Creators

 Churchill, Winston, History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Vol. IV)

 Crankshaw, Edward, Bismarck

 Kissinger, Henry, Diplomacy

 Ludwig, Emil, Bismarck: The Story of a Fighter

 Ozment, Stephen, A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People

Enrichment Strategies

Due to the nature of the AP European History curriculum, it is difficult to envision an approach to enrichment. The course is taught with the expectation that its content and standards for performance are equivalent to those of a first-year college survey course, and students who choose to enroll in this course do so in anticipation that the course, in and of itself, is an enrichment of their education in history. Students may choose to read the complete versions of texts referenced during the course, with the encouragement and support of the instructor.


 ELA: Historical background for works of literature; writing analytical essays

 Geography: Geographic context and influences on culture

 Science/Engineering: Critiques of the secular, scientific worldview

 Music: Historical background for works of music, music as a form of propaganda

 Visual Arts: Historical background for works of art and architecture; arts and architecture as forms of propaganda

Intervention Strategies

The most common deficiency of students who take AP European History is in writing. For these students, it is necessary to: (1) review the process of creating a coherent historical written argument; (2) break down the process into its constituent parts and have the students practice those parts individually; (3) meet individually with those students to consult with them about their progress.

Another area of struggle for students is with exams. For these students, it is important to: (1) develop daily skills that will allow them to summarize and organize the information they will need to be successful on exams; (2) teach them to develop a systematic approach to exam preparation; (3) provide extra assistance with exam preparation in the form of student- or teacher-led study groups/review sessions.
For students who struggle to read, it is advised that an alternative text be provided that the student may read prior to reading the chronologically similar sections of the main text.

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