History 101.007

Fall 2005
Instructor (text): 
204 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MWF 11-12

What was, or is, fascism? Despite, or perhaps because of, the number of different responses to this seemingly simple question, fascism remains in the words of one scholar "the great conundrum for students of the twentieth century," and likely the most overused and least understood political term in modern history. Though most often associated with the dictatorial regimes of Mussolini's Italy and (somewhat problematically) Hitler's Germany, fascism aroused intellectual interest and mass political support in several Western countries. At the height of its popularity in the 1930s, in fact, significant fascist movements developed throughout Europe ≠ in Hungary, Romania, Britain, France, and Spain ≠ as well as in the United States.

This seminar will guide students writing their senior thesis on a subject relating to "fascist studies," broadly construed. Topics may include, but are not limited to: The intellectual origins of fascist ideology; fascist regimes' internal politics or foreign policy; their social composition and efforts at popular mobilization; the relations of artists and intellectuals to fascist regimes and movements; or the reaction of other peoples and governments to the successes and ultimate failures of the fascist experiment. We will begin with a brief overview of contemporary writing on comparative fascism to provide ideas and perspectives, but students should enter the course with potential topics in hand, as emphasis will be placed on refining the prospectus as early as possible in the semester. Students will be encouraged to use foreign language resources where appropriate.

We will meet early in the semester for introductions and class discussions before breaking to allow students to pursue their individual projects. Class meetings will focus on collaborative discussion to help select and refine topics and research strategies. Attendance is mandatory and unexcused absence from scheduled meetings will result in lowering of the final grade.

Students will be asked to prepare a short project prospectus (3-5 pages) outlining the selected topic, a brief summary of published writing on the subject, and the resources to be used in research. Two drafts will be presented in the second half of the semester. The final paper should be approximately 30-35 pages (i.e., 8,000-9,000 words), footnotes and bibliography included.