What is it like to live in a dictatorship? Can people feel like they are leading “normal” lives? How does political oppression affect their desires, their practices, and even their thoughts?This course examines three authoritarian regimes in 20th and 21st century Europe: Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, and Putin’s Russia. Rather than studying their leaders, we’ll focus on ordinary people, and ask how they experienced daily life in repressive states. We’ll consider the extent and limits of state power; the impact of public affairs on private lives; and the possibility of nonconformity or resistance. This is a discussion-based seminar; be prepared to read up to 150 pages per week. You’ll also have to write several short papers, including a source analysis, an imagined autobiography, an exhibition catalog, and an op-ed. This course is intended for first- and second- year students; no prior experience with History courses expected.
How did Europeans become Germans or Italians? When did people start thinking of themselves
in national terms? Why did national identities become so powerful, and what might happen to
them next? This course examines the history of nationalism in modern Europe, from the 1700s
to the present day. We will consider the emergence and consolidation of European nation-states
in the eighteenth century; nationalist movements and the breakup of empires in the
nineteenth; ethnic cleansing and nationalist violence in twentieth-century Europe; as well as
the rise of the European Union and its challenges today. To explore different forms and
varieties of nationalism, we will study films, poems, paintings, and musical sources in addition
to scholarly texts. Through these sources, we will try to understand both the origins and the
prospects of nationalist sentiment in Europe.
Europe’s history and culture have been defined by its encounters with the wider world. This course considers some of those encounters, including migration, colonialism, war, tourism, and trade. Rather than focusing on one country, we will examine how such forces have shaped the idea of Europe itself: what it means to be “European,” whether for individuals, cultures, or states. Topics include European imperialism and decolonization; nationalism and regionalism; the Cold War and the Iron Curtain; and the European Union and its discontents.
This course is taught in conjunction with the UVA Masters Program in European Studies (though masters students will receive additional assignments). It is designed to function as an introduction to the emerging field of European Studies. Our readings thus come from a variety of disciplines: besides historical scholarship, we will read works by anthropologists, literary scholars, political scientists, journalists, and others. You should expect to read roughly 150 pages a week.
The goal of this course is to produce an original work of scholarship related to the theme of Europe and the World. Your research paper is due at the end of the semester and should be 18-20 pages in length. All other assignments are designed to help you research and write this paper. They include in-class participation; a preliminary question; a research prospectus; and a paper draft.
Twenty-eight years ago, on November 9, 1989, a bureaucratic mix-up allowed crowds of East Germans to cross the Berlin Wall. The subsequent scenes of dancing and celebration have become familiar, but how did they come about? Why did the Wall fall when it did – and did it have to fall at all? This course will examine the roots, causes, and aftermath of communism’s collapse in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. We will consider economic stagnation and abortive attempts at reform; political crises and the rise of dissident movements; cultural exchange and the influence of mass media; and the role of social and nationalist activism.
Throughout, we will pay particular attention to the meaning and impact of the Cold War. Communism aspired to be a systematic alternative to the capitalist world, with its own principles of morality, work, and leisure. For this reason, communist regimes were constantly engaged in competition with the West, from the Russian Revolution through the fall of the USSR. We will explore how this competition drove policies at home and abroad; how communist leaders tried to respond to Western influences; and how the Cold War framework continues to shape Russian politics today.
Class meetings will be a mix of lectures and discussion. Students should expect to read 50-70 pages a week, and to attend four movie screenings over the course of the semester. Assignments include a midterm, a final exam, and two creative five-page papers, written from the perspective of a fictional character.
In March 1946, Winston Churchill famously said that an “iron curtain” that had descended across Europe, separating “the Soviet sphere” from “the Western Democracies.” His words proved prophetic: over the next four decades, the European continent would remain divided between two camps, one allied with the US and the other with the USSR. Europe became a major battleground of the Cold War; European states were both arenas of superpower competition and agents in its eventual resolution. This course explores political, social, and cultural aspects of the Cold War in Europe, paying equal attention to states east and west of the Iron Curtain. What factors drove the division of Europe, and how was this division felt on the ground? How did the US and the USSR try to remake Europe in their image, and to what extent did they succeed? Which phenomena became touchstones of Cold War competition, and which transcended the Iron Curtain? Finally, why did the division of Europe end when it did? Are Cold War legacies still visible today, and how do they shape the prospects for European unity in the future?
The goal of this course is to produce an original work of scholarship about some aspect of Cold War Europe. Your research paper is due at the end of the semester and should be 18-20 pages in length. All other assignments are designed to help you research and write this paper. They include in-class participation; a preliminary question; a research prospectus; and a paper draft. Be prepared to read roughly 150 pages each week, in addition to your own research.
This course explores the meaning of nationalism in Europe, from the UK’s Acts of Union in 1707 to the EU's crisis today. We will consider the development of modern nation-states; unification movements in the nineteenth century; nationalist fervor and the collapse of empires; minority rights and ethnic expulsions in the twentieth century; the rise of the European Union and the rebirth of separatism in the present day. By drawing on both primary and secondary sources, we will try to understand how the nation became the preeminent political form of modern Europe, and how it may continue to shape the continent in the future.
Readings average about 100 pages a week. Assignments include an in-class midterm exam, an in-class final exam, and two 4-6 page papers. We will divide our time in class between lecture and discussion.
Twenty-five years ago, on November 9, 1989, a bureaucratic mix-up allowed crowds of East Germans to cross the Berlin Wall. The subsequent scenes of dancing and celebration have become the defining image of the fall of communism, shown on television screens around the world. Yet the focus on one momentous event obscures the fact that the fall of communism was a long and gradual process, one that began well before 1989 and still continues today. This course will examine the roots, causes, and aftermath of communism’s collapse in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. We will consider economic stagnation and abortive attempts at reform; political crises and the rise of dissident movements; cultural exchange and the influence of mass media; and the role of social and nationalist activism.
Throughout, we will pay particular attention to the meaning and impact of the Cold War. Communism aspired to be a systematic alternative to the capitalist world, with its own principles of morality, work, and leisure. For this reason, contact between East and West presented a particular challenge for communist regimes and played a crucial role in their development. We will explore how the imperative of global competition drove communist policies at home and abroad; how communist leaders tried to respond to Western influences; and how the Cold War framework shaped the transition from communism to democracy. In so doing, we will come to see that the fall of communism was not a singular event but rather a lengthy process of raising the Iron Curtain.
The Berlin Wall is now a global symbol of division. It is invoked in policy debates about US immigration; its fall has become synonymous with the end of the Cold War; its fragments are preserved as monuments to the human spirit – including right here at UVA. But what was the Berlin Wall, exactly? Why did it go up, and how did it work? What did it divide, and what got through? Why did it collapse when it did – and what legacy did it leave behind?
This course examines the rise, fall, and afterlives of the Berlin Wall, from the end of the Second World War to the present day. We will consider who built the Berlin Wall; how it divided a united city; and how ordinary people learned to live with the barrier in their midst. We will also explore the shadowy world of spies, lies, and border crossings that sprung up around the Wall, on the front lines of the Cold War. Finally, we examine who, or what, brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989, as well as the many ways in which it still lives on today.
This course will double as an introduction to historical method. We will look at a wide range of sources, including films, novels, memoirs, newspaper reports, and case files kept by the Secret Police. We will also pay particular attention to developing writing skills: over the course of the semester, students will prepare their own research paper on some aspect of the Berlin Wall and its history.