History 324A: Twentieth-Century Europe (Graduate-Level Historiographical Survey)

Fall 2002

Course Description

Readings on selected topics in the history of twentieth-century Europe.  The course is open to all graduate students, but is primarily designed for Europeanists preparing a field for the general examination on Europe since 1789.


1. Class discussions.  Each student will be asked to choose a subset of the weekly topics (depending on the number of students in the course), and give a 10-15 minute oral presentation on that week’s readings at the beginning of class.  I expect all students to participate actively in class discussions.

2. A brief (2 pages, typed, single-spaced) informal commentary on each week’s readings will be due from each student at the beginning of class.  Although these exercises will be graded, their primary purpose is to accumulate (by the end of the semester) a comprehensive overview of the readings covered by the course.  This dossier will prove valuable not only when it comes time to review for the comprehensive examination, but also later in your teaching career, when you are writing lectures and need to refresh your memory about twentieth-century European historiography.

3. Each student will write a formal historiographical essay, 15-20 pp., double-spaced, on one of the major topics covered by the course.  This essay will substitute for the 2-page commentary that the student would otherwise have prepared for that week’s readings.  It will be due in class on the date when that topic is up for discussion.


All of the assigned readings for the course will be on one-day reserve in the Central Library Reserve Room.  The assigned books will be available in the Campus Bookstore in Rand Hall (needless to say, you are free to choose which ones, if any, you want to buy).  The textbook is H. Stuart Hughes and James Wilkinson, Contemporary Europe: A History (Ninth ed.).

Course Schedule

Week 1 (Aug. 28): Introduction

Informal discussion of students’ understanding of main currents of the period 1789-2002.

Reading: None

Week 2 (Sept. 4): Modernization and its Discontents

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, Contemporary Europe, ch. 1

Eugen Weber, Peasants Into Frenchmen, Intro., chs. 1, 12, 17, 18, 29

Richard Kuisel, Seducing the French: Dilemma of Americanization, chs. 1, 5, 10

Michael Bess, The Light-Green Society, chaps. 2, 3 (handout)

Week 3 (Sept. 11): European High Culture at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, ch. 7

Carl Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, Intro., chs. 2, 5, 7

Week 4 (Sept. 18): World War I

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, ch. 2, 4

Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War, Intro, chs. 1, 7, 10, Conclusion

Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory, chs. 3, 4

Week 5 (Sept. 25): The Russian Revolution and Stalinism

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, chs. 3, 10

Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy, chs. 1-7

Week 6 (Oct. 2): Fascism

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, chs. 5, 6, 8, 9

Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship (4th ed.), all

Week 7 (Oct. 9): Women in 20th-Century History

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, ch. 11

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (especially second half of book)

Victoria De Grazia, How Fascism Ruled Women, preface, chs. 1, 3, 4

Sonya Rose, “Sex, Citizenship, and the Nation in WWII Britain” (American Historical Review, 1998) (handout)

Mary Nolan, “Work, Gender and Everyday Life,” in Kershaw and Lewin, eds.

Stalinism and Nazism, ch. 13

Week 8 (Oct. 16): Comparative Totalitarianisms

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, ch. 12

Ian Kershaw and Moshe Lewin, eds., Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in                                            Comparison, introduction, chs. 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, afterthoughts

Week 9 (Oct. 23): Imperialism

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, ch. 18

Edward Said, Orientalism, pp. 1-73

David Cannadine, Ornamentalism, preface, chs. 1, 2, 7-12

Isak Dinesen, “The Old Chief Mshlanga” (handout)

George Orwell, “Shooting an Elephant” (handout)

Week 10 (Oct. 30): World War II and the Holocaust

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, ch. 13

Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won, chs. 1, 10, epilogue

Helmut Smith, The Butcher’s Tale, all

Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men, Preface, ch. 18, afterword

Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, pp. 375-472

Week 11 (Nov. 6): Science, Technology, and Society

Reading:           Gabrielle Hecht, The Radiance of France, pp. 1-54.

Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, chs. 1, 4, 10, 14-19, epilogue

Richard Lewontin, “The Politics of Science,” NY Review of [Each Others’] Books (May 9, 2002) (handout)

Week 12 (Nov. 13): The Cold War

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, chs. 14, 15, 17

Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy, chs. 8-10

Michael Bess, Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud, ch. 3

Václav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless” [chapter one in eponymous book]

Week 13 (Nov. 20): Postwar Culture

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, chs. 16, 19, 20, 21

Jean-Paul Sartre, “Existentialism is a Humanism”

Arthur Marwick, The Sixties, chs. 1, 2, 7, 12, 16

Bess, Interview with Michel Foucault, “Power, Moral Values, and the Intellectual”

Week 14 : Thanksgiving Break

Week 15 (Dec. 4): The Collapse of the Soviet System (Part 1)

Reading:           Wilkinson & Hughes, chs. 22, 23

Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy, chs. 11-13, epilogue

Mark Von Hagen, “Stalinism and the Politics of Post-Soviet History,” in Kershaw and Lewin, eds. Stalinism and Nazism, ch. 12

Week 16 (Dec. 11): The Collapse of the Soviet System (Part 2)

Reading:           Stephen Kotkin, Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000