European History

History 5

Fall 2005
145 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-3:30

This introductory course provides essential background to an understanding of Europe today by surveying the elements of its past that went into its making. We begin, roughly, with the ";Closing"; of Europe to the Islamic world after the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. We end with Europe's Re-opening, in the late 20th and early 21st century, symbolized, in part, the Balkan conflict in the 1990s. As we cover these five and a half centuries, we will look at major landmarks in Europe's social, political, and intellectual development: the Renaissance, the expansion of Europe into the Americas, the breakup of a single Western Christendom into competing religious communities, the construction of the modern state, the Enlightenment, the European revolutions, industrialization, socialism, nationalism, imperialism, Communism and Nazism, the two World Wars, decolonialization, the Cold War, cultural changes in the post-war period, and the breakup of Communism in Eastern Europe. We will close with the continent's current reconfiguration, as former patterns of migration have moved into reverse and the non-European world expands into Europe.

Our readings will range from learned treatises in religion, classics in political theory, fiction, and other documents from the past, as well as a textbook. Work in sections centers on reading and discussion of original sources and lectures, and on the improvement of writing skills. Students should be warned that the course moves very fast: about forty years per week. Such a pace demands that you be willing to keep up with the reading assignments and bear with the frustrations of the pace of a survey course.