Course Descriptions and Sample Syllabi

History 214 (formerly History 111):  Modern Europe

Syllabus HIST 111 2008
This class serves as an introduction to the major questions in European history from 1750 to the present. The first half of the course examines the cultural and political challenges to absolutism that emerged in 18th century Europe and the subsequent period of upheaval associated with industrialization and the French revolution.

The second half of the course focuses on the new nationalism and imperialism of the nineteenth century, the two World Wars, the Russian revolution, fascism and the Holocaust, and the history of Europe during the cold war and after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The course assumes no previous knowledge.  First and second year students and non-majors interested in Europe are strongly encouraged to take the class.  It would be especially beneficial for students who plan to study abroad in a European country.

History 313:  The Revolutionary Century:  France, 1789-1900

Syllabus HIST 313 2007
The revolution of 1789 in France announced the beginning of a new age, in which established social and political traditions were swept away in the name of cultural novelty and political experimentation.  Armed with a powerful new model of citizenship and national identity, France’s revolutionaries sought to export their allegedly universal model of modern civilization to the rest of the world.  Meanwhile, at home in metropolitan France, repeated attempts across the nineteenth century to create a new revolutionary political order failed, although a stable and relatively conservative form of republican government was established after 1870.  Using a variety of sources—auto-biography, historical documents, novels, and recent studies—this class will explore the social and political history of France’s revolutionary century, paying special attention to its resonance beyond France’s European borders, and to the unexpected transformations produced within France and elsewhere.

History 314:  Empire, War, and Modernity:  France and the World in the 20th Century

Syllabus HIST 314 2006
In the fall of 2005, people all over the world were shocked to see images broadcast on television of young men and boys in France—many of them born to parents of immigrant origin—burning cars and schools and battling with police on the outskirts of French cities. Coming on the heels of a decade-long debate about the place of Islam in French society, many have wondered whether the traditional French republican model of citizenship was adequate to deal with the problems faced by contemporary French society.

This class will attempt to place the current French predicament in a broader historical context, by examining the nation’s traumatic history in the 20th century, a period which encompasses the two world wars, the German occupation, and the difficult and often violent struggles that accompanied the loss of the French empire in the 1950s and early 1960s.  Readings include autobiographies, novels and works of history written by people who lived in metropolitan France, as well as authors from former French colonies in Senegal and Algeria.

History 615:  Introduction to the Comparative Study of History

Syllabus HIST 615 2008
This course is designed to introduce first-year graduate students to a few key historical concepts that have helped shaped the discipline as it is practiced today. It is not intended to prepare students for study in any particular geographical area, but rather to provide a forum for the collective examination of various theories and methods that have been at the center of historical debate for much of the last half century.

History 651:  Studies in Modern French History

Syllabus HIST 651 2007
This class serves as an introduction to recent historical work on twentieth-century French history. Two larger themes in particular will serve to focus our discussions.  On the one hand we will discuss a number of different works that place elements of France’s colonial past at the center of their discussion, destabilizing as they do so some of the conventional narratives of national or metropolitan history in France.  Simultaneously, we will also examine several recent works of cultural history, which implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) present themselves as a challenge to earlier forms of historical writing about politics and society.