Modern German History
There are few countries that demonstrate the Janus-face of Western modernity more dramatically than Germany. Unprecedented scientific, economic and cultural growth went hand in hand with radical social and political polarization. Democratic pluralism was possible, but so were dictatorship and the most radical exclusion of perceived "others." This course explores German history from the founding of the German Empire in 1871 to the present. Among the themes that we will study are the repeated radical transformations of Germany's political structures in the 20th century, the place of war and genocide in German history and memory, as well as the country's shifting position within Europe and the world. We will also examine some of the major debates in German historiography, such as the idea that the Nazi Third Reich resulted from a flawed pattern of modernization that disconnected economic liberalism from political democracy. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to the ruptures and continuities in modern German history, and to the meanings of a traumatic past for the construction of German national identity and European integration. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, two essays, as well as a midterm and final examination.