Twentieth Century Europe

History 327 Course Description
Twentieth Century Europe
Professor Tania Maync
Course Description/Principle Topics:
The twentieth century witnessed both the high point and end of the European era. At the outset
of the century, Europe was by far the dominant and most powerful continent. By mid-century,
Europe was divided into “spheres of influence” between the two superpowers with negligible
geopolitical power.
One of the major aims of this course will be to define what exactly the adjective “European”
denotes. Geographically the “borders” of Europe have been anything but constant throughout
the twentieth century. Is there a European “culture”? Can Europe be defined as a unified entity?
Today, Europe is considered an insignificant backwater by American politicians and ideal
backpacking/party destination for youths. Yet there is something more to Europe tangible to the
concept of Europe as a political, cultural, economic and social entity, which the continent’s
history in the twentieth century attests to.
Another major theme of the course will be to identify and define the transnational movements
that give European history in the twentieth century a unitary character. The famous historian
Eric Hobsbawm has referred to the twentieth century as the “Age of Extremes.” Certainly the
Cold War comes to mind and the American-Soviet conflict of the latter half of the century. But
Europe itself was divided into “extremes” both during the Cold War and also before. The battle
between “fascism” and “democracy” was largely fought on European soil and Europe was also
ground zero in the confrontation between “capitalism” and “communism.”
Student Learning Outcomes
After taking this course you will have a good understanding of the issues and events of the
period covered as well as a deeper understanding of the larger themes and key concepts of
twentieth century Europe including the traditions that define it such as capitalism, liberalism,
fascism, communism and Nazism. You will also learn to analyze a host of source materials and
primary documents improving your reading skills and ability to synthesize large amounts of
material. Finally, you will learn to write critically by developing, effectively presenting and
convincingly supporting an argument.
None but History 101 preferred
Required Texts
Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution
Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men, Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in
Slavenka Drakulić, How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed
Felix Gilbert and David Clay Large, The End of the European Era, 1890 to the Present (6th ed.)
Course Work/Expectations
Class Participation and Attendance: 15%
Midterm: 15%
Three Papers: 10, 15 and 20 % respectively
Final Exam:25%