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hist377%20final%20syllabus%20updated[1] - MWF 12:20-1:10 pm...

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HIST377 Europe, 1914-1945 Spring 2011 MWF 12:20-1:10 pm Hardin 101 Dr. Thomas Goldstein TA: Samantha Schmidt [email protected] [email protected] 127 Hardin Hall TA Office (basement of Hardin) Office Hours: M, 1:30-3:30 and by appt. Office Hours: W 10-11 and by appt. Course Overview and Objectives In 1914, Europe stood at the pinnacle of civilization. Its people dominated large swaths of the rest of the world, produced works of global cultural significance, voiced ideas that had resonance well beyond its borders, and could take pride in the fact that nearly a century had passed since the highly destructive Napoleonic Wars had shaken the continent’s foundations. By 1945, however, Europe lay in ruins and millions of individuals around the world had been killed by wars unleashed by Europeans motivated by ultranationalist and racist political ideologies. By the end of World War II, Europeans, once the most powerful people on earth, were now dominated by two new superpowers from beyond their borders and were no longer the masters of their destiny. Why and how did this happen? Why and how did European democracy prove so fragile and so easily susceptible to ideologically 1
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motivated dictatorships in these years? Why and how did Europe nearly destroy itself and what impact did this have on Europeans? While important to explore these questions, we should also remember that these years were not only years of war and fascism. The 1920s and 1930s also spawned tremendous social and cultural changes, grand political experiments, and ideas that continue to impact our world today. Why were these years so creatively vibrant? What were the motivations behind these new ideas and how did they impact people’s experiences? How could a society of such vitality collapse in war and destruction? It will be our quest to answer these questions as we explore the tumultuous changes and continuities between 1914 and 1945. With these thoughts in mind, we will pursue the following objectives: To understand the causes and consequences of the two world wars in European and global history To explore how Europeans experienced the upheaval of this period and how they sought to make sense of the changes and play an active role in them To historicize controversial terms such as “fascism” and “communism” so as to correct misuses of the terms in current political discourse To introduce various approaches to studying the past, including political, social, cultural, and intellectual history To sharpen your analytical, writing, and communication skills In meeting these aims, this course addresses a variety of themes, including: The challenges to liberal democracy posed by total war, violent ideologies, economic crises, and cultural and social developments The creation of radical political and social ideas such as fascism and communism and their impact on Europeans and non-Europeans The extent to which one can speak of “European” experiences and identities
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