Students are required to take a three-hour final that includes some short-answer questions, but mainly emphasizes broad interpretive essays. You should therefore do the course reading and listen to lectures with a view toward increasing your powers of historical analysis rather than memorizing arcane details. The instructor will provide a general idea of the essay questions during the last meetings of the term. However, one question on the final may ask you to discuss a
specific book on the reading list, and the title will not be divulged in advance. Another question on the final exam will address the assigned films.
An optional take-home midterm exam may also be offered if sufficient demand for it arises. Students who wish to have an early indication of their progress are invited to submit the midterm exam, at their pleasure. Anyone who submits the midterm will receive a grade on it. But no one is required to take the midterm, nor is it necessary to take it in order to get a good term grade.
All undergraduates, however, must sit for the final exam at the time specified by the Registrar. The Registrar’s website provides a fixed schedule for final exams. Unfortunately, neither a make-up substitute for the final, nor a change of date, nor a change of time, is an option. Please do not ask. Term grades will be based largely on the paper and the final exam, with the exam receiving slightly greater weighting in the event of a discrepancy. In exceptional cases, class participation may play a subordinate role.
The course has no formal prerequisites. Nevertheless, the lectures assume some general knowledge. Students with no previous background in European history may wish to consult a general textbook (such as R.R. Palmer and Joel Colton, History of the Modern World, vol. 2). If you feel that the lectures have slighted some specific point and have expertise in weight-lifting, you may obtain clarification in Bernard Wasserstein, Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time. Students seeking a shorter alternative introduction to the history of this era may also turn to Felix Gilbert with David Clay Large, The End of the European Era. Students who have already read some of the assigned works are of course free to substitute others.