EUH 4506: Europe in the 20th Century
The Crisis of the Modern Age
Professor Steven Kreis
Florida Atlantic University, Davie
COURSE OUTLINE: This course is designed to present the upper division undergraduate with a general survey of European political, cultural, intellectual and economic developments since the 1890s. The primary focus of the entire course is modernism: its appearance, significance and implications for the subsequent history of 20th century Europe in particular and the West in general. Emphasis will also be laid upon the following: war as an agent of social change, the revolutionary personality, totalitarianism, the secularization of the West, the onset of the Cold War, and the dissolution of Soviet-style communism in Eastern Europe. While this course has no stated prerequisite, it is assumed that the student has a basic understanding of modern European history.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Attendance and informed participation at ALL class meetings is not only expected but required. This means that you (1) show up to class on a regular basis and (2) complete your reading assignments on time. The entire success of the course, both from my standpoint and from yours is that you get involved, get interested, and get motivated to study a continent whose history is inextricably connected to our own. Keep the following statement in mind for the duration of the semester and you should do just fine: "Education is nothing more than dialogue and, according to the master of dialogue, Socrates, good dialogue ought to improve both instructor and student." When all is said and done, the primary task of this course is to challenge you to think and discuss your ideas openly. There are no wrong answers!
ON READING HISTORY: Make no mistake, the study of history requires reading. The books I have selected for this course reflect two things: (1) my own interests and (2) current research on 20th century European history. Eksteins' book, The Rites of Spring, is an impressionistic study of World War I and the birth of modernism in the 20th century. It is less about the Great War than it is about the social, cultural and intellectual environment in which that war took place. Since Eksteins devotes an entire chapter to Remarque's now classic, All Quiet on the Western Front, I thought it proper that we read this text as well. Of all the novels written about war in the 20th century, it is Remarque's book that almost always comes to mind. In order to get better acquainted with Stalinism in particular and totalitarianism in general, Koestler's Darkness at Noon, is superb. How could the utopian aims of the Russian Revolution of 1917 have turned into the greatest dystopia of the 20th century? Our course will end with Lacquer's detailed study of Europe since 1945.
The assigned reading may be difficult at times, but you should not give up. For some of you, the reading will illustrate stuff you already know. For others, you will be treading on unfamiliar territory. My advice is to do the reading and raise questions in class. An encyclopedia will help you if you find more information necessary. And there are dozens of general history surveys which you can browse in the library.
Try not to worry so much about specific names, dates or events. Think more in terms of broad-based themes and ideas for that is the approach I take. If you have any specific problems with the readings or if you desire some different texts, please do not hesitate to ask. The reading assignments may seem a bit hefty. You will be asked to read about 100 pages per week and you must make every effort to keep up with the reading assignments. If you have not done the reading for a specific week, you should make the effort to show up to class just the same.
GRADING: I will assign two or three take-home examinations during the course of the semester. These will be essay exams which ask you to synthesize, comment and reflect upon topics we have dealt with in class. The exams will all be announced in advance and you will have one week to complete each of them. For those of you interested in submitting a research essay in lieu of the exams, please see me as soon as possible to discuss your somewhat different course requirements. Your final grade is based is based on two variables: (1) your performance on the take-home exams or research essay and (2) the level of your participation in class. At least 15% of your final grade will be determined by this last variable.
THE INTERNET: I would urge all of you to sign up for your FREE VAX account at FAU. In this way we can communicate after hours on any subject which may have been discussed during class time. I cannot force you to get this FREE account but I do recommend that you do obtain this FREE account as soon as possible. If you already have access to email (via American Online, CompuServe, MSN or Prodigy) or if you have a full Internet account, fine. If you don't have an account, get one NOW!
The Internet is an amazing platform for intellectual improvement. Since it is there and access is now so inexpensive and easily available, you would be doing yourselves a severe injustice if you did not take advantage of all that the Internet has to offer. If you have any questions about the Internet, please do not hesitate to ask me. I've been trolling the Net for two years now and when I am not teaching European history at FAU, I also find time to teach seminars at Barnes & Noble, Borders and elsewhere.
I have set up a web page called The History Guide. There you will find valuable information about the study of history including tips for taking notes and exams, how to write an essay and the answers to the big questions like: what is history? Or why study history? The address of my web page is:
As an added feature, I have decided to make my lectures available at my web page! Isn't that incredible! Your instructor is going to let you download, read or print each lecture. Why would I do this? Well, what better way to "hear" the lecture if you missed it. Not only that, if my lectures are made public perhaps you'll spend less time writing down everything I say and more time listening to what it I am saying, right? With any luck, these lectures will be made available to you before the next class meets, that way you will already have an idea of what it is I am going to talk about. Again, if you have any questions about the Internet, do not hesitate to ask me.
THE CLASS: My conduct in this class, as you will soon see, is based on a genuine respect for the intellect of each and every student. My approach is informal and, at times, irreverent. Just the same, I take my work very seriously and I expect you to do so as well. If you show up late for a class I expect you to enter the room as discreetly as possible. If you miss any class it is your responsibility to make sure that you make up for lost ground. I have found that a format of lecture and discussion works to the advantage of everyone involved, including myself. If you are not prepared to at least think about our subject, then I suggest you will have a tough time overall. In other words, come to class prepared to learn and discuss new ideas and, above all, THINK!
| The History Guide | |
copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis