Europe since 1789

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HISTORY 52B (Fall 2015) Jankowski

Europe from 1789 to 1989 Golding 115,

M,W,Th 11:00-11:50 Office hrs: M, TH 2-3:30 or by appt.


History 52B provides an introduction to the principal themes in European history from the French revolution in 1789 to the fall of communism in 1989. The course will focus on the social, political, and military upheavals that have shaken and transformed European society in the past two hundred years.

Learning Goals

By the end of this four-credit course the student should have acquired the ability to distinguish between critical episodes in European history since the French revolution and between the ways in which various national entities experienced them. The student should also acquire the mental habit of distrusting ideologies and movements claiming to offer panaceas for all the problems of the day, the theme with which this course begins and ends.


The requirements, all of which must be completed, include attendance at all lectures and discussions, two papers of five to eight pages in length, and a three-hour final exam. For each discussion section I have indicated general questions below, and will expect you to discuss them and refer to the readings since the previous discussion section, as possible. The first paper is due October 14 and the second on November 30. Each may be chosen from lists of possible topics, including the historical content of appropriate written works, attached to this syllabus. Late papers are strongly discouraged and will in any case be graded down. For the final three-hour exam, I will ask you to prepare beforehand outlines to a number of short essay questions, several of which will then be asked of you at the exam itself.

I will expect students in this course to devote an average of about 9-10 hours per week in addition to class time to readings and viewings, papers, and preparation for discussion sections and exams.  

Each paper will account for about 20 per cent of the course grade, the final exam about 40 per cent., and classroom and discussion participation about 20 per cent.


I would suggest that students purchase the following books, which are available in the bookstore. Anyone purchasing The West: Encounters and Transformations from a source other than the bookstore should be sure to order the same edition and volume number, as pagination changes from edition to edition.

Brian Levack et al, The West: Encounters & Transformations, Volume 2 (4th ed., ISBN 0205968821
or 9780205968824)

Katharine J. Lualdi, Sources of the Making of the West. peoples and Cultures, Volume 2 (since 1500) (4th ed., 2012)

Charles Dickens, Hard Times

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

C.E. Montague, Disenchantment

Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Brandeis University and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please see me immediately.

Classes and Assignments

1. Thursday, August 27: Introduction

2. Monday, August 31: The Rise of the Public Sphere

Read: Levack, 587-614; Lualdi, chap. 18, documents 1-4

3. Wednesday, September 2: 1789 and the Transfer of Sovereignty

Read: Levack, 616-621; on Latte, Alan Forrest, The French Revolution (Oxford, 1995), “1789”; Lualdi,

chap. 19, documents 1-3

4. Thursday, September 3: 1793 and the Terror

Read: Levack, 621-635, Lualdi, chap. 19, documents 4, 5

Monday September 7 Labor Day

5. Wednesday, September 9: 1799 and the Napoleonic adventure

Read: Read: Levack, 635-644; on Latte, Forrest, “War”

6. Thursday, September 10: Discussion sections on French Revolution

Read: Levack, 647-649; on Latte, Balzac, “An Incident in the Reign of Terror”;


How did the French revolution differ from the American?

Was the Reign of terror necessary?

Monday September 14 Rosh Hashanah

7. Wednesday, September 16: Liberalism and its Enemies

Read: Levack, 682-684, 692-698; Lualdi, chap. 20, docs. 2, 3

8. Thursday, September 17:

Nationalism and its Enemies

Read: Levack, 687-689

9. Monday, September 21: Industry and its enemies

Read: Levack, 651-675; Lualdi, chap. 21, documents 1, 2, 3, 4

Wednesday, September 23 Yom Kippur

10. Thursday, September 24: Discussion section on revolutionary ideologies and social change


Why was the movement from the village to the town and the city important?

What was revolutionary about nationalism?

Why did the revolutions of 1848 fail?

Read: Charles Dickens, Hard Times

Monday, September 28 Sukkot

11. Tuesday, September 29 (Brandeis Monday): 1848

Read: Levack, 698-703; Lualdi, chap. 21, document 5

12. Thursday, October 1: Nation-building (i)

Read: Levack, 704-706, 709-711; on Latte: Lucy Riall, The Italian Risorgimento: State, Society and Italian Unification (London and New York, 1994), 1-28, 63-82; Lualdi, chap. 22, doc. 2

Monday October 5 Shmini Atzeret

13. Wednesday, October 7: Nation-building (ii)

Read: Levack, 707-708, 711-712; on Latte: Imanuel Geiss, The Question of German Unification (London and New York, 1997) 5-51; Lualdi, chap. 22, document 3

14. Thursday, October 8: Peace and its Enemies

Read: Levack, 711-713

15. Monday, October 12: The new state and its enemies

Read: Levack, 721-743; Lualdi, chap. 23, document 4; chap. 24, doc. 4

16. Wednesday, October 14: Imperialism

Read: Levack, 676-679, 760-777; Lualdi, chap. 23, documents 1, 3; chap. 24, doc. 5

First paper due

17. Thursday, October 15: Discussion sections on nationalism and imperialism


What best explains great power rivalry by 1900?

Is it possible to draw up a “balance-sheet” of imperialism?

Is racism a form of nationalism?

Read: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

18. Monday, October 19: 1914 and the European Crisis

Read: Levack, 779-782; Lualdi, chap. 24, document 6

19. Wednesday, October 21: The First World War (i)

Read: Levack, 782-795; Lualdi, chap. 25, document 1

20. Thursday, October 22: The First World War (ii)

Read: Levack, 796-800; Lualdi, chap. 25, documents 2, 3

21. Monday, October 26: 1917 and the Russian Revolution

Read: Levack, 800-803; Lualdi, chap. 25, document 3

22. Wednesday, October 28: Postwar

Read: Levack, 806-815; Watch: The Grand Illusion (on Latte)

23. Thursday, October 29 Discussion section on the First World War


Was the war an accident?

Was the war a “total war”?

Could the war have been fought differently?

Could the war have been concluded differently (Versailles)?

Read: C.E. Montague, Disenchantment

24. Monday, November 2: Fascism

Read: Levack:, 815-820; Lualdi chap. 25, documents 4, 5; chap. 26, doc. 1

25. Wednesday, November 4: The New Soviet State

Read: Levack, 803-806, 827-831

26. Thursday, November 5: The Third Reich

Read: Levack, 820-827

Watch: To Die in Madrid (on Latte)

27. Monday, November 9: The European civil war

Read: Levack, 831-834; Lualdi, chap. 26, doc. 2

28. Wednesday, November 11

Discussion section on totalitarianism


How should the concept of “totalitarianism” be defined?

Does the concept describe a historical reality?

In what ways is “totalitarianism” modern?

Read: Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon

29. Thursday, November 12: 1939 and the new European crisis

Levack, 847-851, 853-854; Lualdi, chap. 26, document 3

30. Monday, November 16: The Second World War (i)

Levack, 851-866

31. Wednesday, November 18: The Second World War (ii)

Read: Levack, 866-878

32. Thursday, November 19: Discussion section on the Holocaust


What is the connection between the Holocaust and the Second World War?

What was the role of culture or ideology in the Holocaust?

What was the role of the bystanders?

Read: Lualdi, chap. 26, document 4; Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

33. Monday, November 23: Divided Europe 1945-1956

Read: Levack, 880-889; Lualdi, chap. 27, docs. 1, 2

Wednesday-Thursday, November 25-26 Thanksgiving

34. Monday, November 30: The New Prosperity 1956-1968

Levack, 904-915; Lualdi, chap. 28, doc. 2

Watch: The Bicycle Thief (on Latte)

Second paper due

35. Wednesday, December 2: Decolonization

Levack, 889-899; Lualdi, chap. 27, document 3

Watch: The Battle of Algiers (on Latte)

36. Thursday, December 3: European Unity

Read: Levack, 906, 937-939; Lualdi, chap. 29, doc. 2

37. Monday, December 7: Discussion section: 1968 and after

Levack, 915-916, 919-924; watch on Latte: 1968: The Year that changed the world? (BBC 2008, 4 parts, available as podcast)

Questions: Was 1968 a revolution or a revolutionary situation or neither?

Why did the boom years end?

38. Wednesday, December 9: The Fall of Communism

Read: Levack, 924-932, 934-943; Lualdi, chap. 28, document 1, 6


Following are possible topics for the paper due on February 27. You may choose a topic of your own if you like, provided that it falls within the period 1789-1914 and that you clear it with me or Aaron Wirth beforehand.

The paper should be between five and eight pages in length, present an argument, rather than a narrative, in grammatical and coherent English, and include footnotes or endnotes (or parenthetical citations, although footnotes or endnotes are preferable) and a list of sources. Avoid using the first person, colloquialisms, and abbreviations. Please see us if you have any questions about the topic or about the paper as you develop it. Attached to the printed form of this syllabus is a style sheet for proper citation; for other questions of style I would suggest that you refer to the Chicago Manual of Style, available in the library.

1. Which group in France gained the most from the revolution (1789-1815), and which lost the most?

2. “Napoleon’s great merit was to have made a clean sweep” (Stendhal, 1822). True?

3. How important were ideas in the outbreak and course of the French revolution?

4. was the Romantic Revival a ‘revolt against reason’?

5. “There is no logical connection between Liberalism and nationalism.” True?

  1. What part did the risings of 1848-9 play in the development of Italian or german national consciousness?

  2. What was the most important development in the art of war between 1815 and 1913?

  3. Did working class movements achieve anything in Europe before 1850?

  4. Why did industrialization come early to some countries and late to others?

  5. “Britain acquired her colonies in a fit of absent-mindedness.” True?

  6. Why did the socialist parties abandon the cause of internationalism in 1914?

  7. What was the connection, if any, between racism and the cult of science?

  8. Analyze and assess the role played by any one of the following powers in the outbreak of war in 1914: Germany, Russia, Austria, France, Britain.

  9. Explain the historical content of one of the following novels: de Musset,Confessions of a Child of the Century; di Lampedusa, The Leopard; Zola, Germinal; Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks; Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March


Following are possible topics for the paper due on April 25. The guidelines are the same as for the first paper. But if you wrote about a novel for that paper, do not choose question 12 for this one. As before, if you would like to write about a topic not suggested below, by all means do so, but please clear it with me or Aaron Wirth beforehand.

1. Analyze the impact of the First World War on either (i)military thinking in any country or (ii) women in any one country or (iii) art and literature in any one country.

2. Could Tsarist Russia have reformed itself enough to avoid revolution?

3. Account for the appearance of fascist movements between the wars in either Italy, Rumania, Hungary, or Spain.

4. How important was Hitler either (i) to the rise of Nazism or (ii) to the Holocaust or (iii) to the organization of the nazi state?

5. Explain the “appeasement” of Nazi Germany by France and Britain between the wars.

6. Analyze the military blunders committed by either (i)the USSR or (ii) Germany or (iii) the UK and the USA during the Second World War.

7. Analyze the effectiveness of any one resistance movement or any one collaborationist regime during the Second World War in Europe.

8. Why did the Cold war start and end in Europe?

9. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the welfare state in Western Europe after the Second World War.

10. Explain the appeal of either (i) existentialism or (ii) structuralism or (iii)postmodernism.

11. Explain the collapse of communism in any one central or eastern European country (including the USS).

12. Explain the historical content of any one of the following novels or memoirs: Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front; Graves, Good-bye to all that; Barbusse, Under Fire; Rybakov, Children of the Arbat; Carlo Levi, Christ Stopped at Eboli; Primo Levi, Moments of Reprieve or Survival at Auschwitz.

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