North Island College Winter 2019

Delivery Format:  On-Line (Note that there is also a face-to-face version of this course that meets on the Comox Valley Campus in Tyee 203 on Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00 pm.  You are welcome to show up at this class in-person at any time throughout the semester)

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office: Village G6

Office Hours:  Thurs. 11:30 am - 12:30 pm; 2:30 - 3:50 pm (or by appointment)

Office Phone:  334-5000, Extension 4024

Web- Site for Course:  http://www.misterdann.com/contentsmoderneuropeii.htm 

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca

Course Description

History 216 is offered as an introduction to the most significant trends in European history from the end of the French Revolution to the present.  It is not meant to be a comprehensive survey in which you are taught "all you need to know" but is designed to highlight several important issues loosely organized within a chronological framework.  We will be dealing with broad themes: the development of the concept of nationalism and the emergence of new nation-states; the rise of Europe to a position of global dominance; the connections between ideologies and social forces; revolution; explanations for the "total war" that so influenced the last century and the world we live in today; the relationship between past events and collective memories of those events.  But we will also try to bring history down to the personal level.  How did people create meaning in their own lives?  How did they shape their world, and how, in turn, were they shaped by events, by social structure, and by other people?  We will approach such questions through a mixture of lecture presentation, class discussion, reading, student research, and video.


Svetlana Alexievich, Unwomanly Face Of War: An Oral History Of Women In World War II (New York: Random House, 2018).

Barbara Tuchman, Proud Tower: A Portrait Of The World Before The War (New York: Random House, 1996).

Victor Sebestyen, Revolution 1989: The Fall Of The Soviet Empire (London: Phoenix, 2010).

Optional Textbook:  I have decided not to include a textbook as one of the required HIS 216 readings.  You may find it helpful to purchase a used text as an extra reference, especially since lectures will not be folded into the on-line edition of the course.  I would recommend either of the following as possibilities:

John Merriman, A History Of Modern Europe From The French Revolution To The Present, 2nd rev. ed.  New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.  Another place to find a used copy is through AbeBooks.

Donald Kagan et al.  Western Heritage Since 1300.  Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. (You should be able to find an inexpensive used volume at AbeBooks.  This text has been published in several different editions and formats.  Make sure you order a volume that includes the 1789-Present time period.)

Approaching The On-Line Course

HIS 216 is being offered in both on-line and face-to-face formats this semester, and these two sections will be sharing my public access web-site as the basic resource for the course.  I have listed two different syllabi -- one for the in-class section and the other for distance learners.  But the other parts of the web-site will be used by both classes.

I do not have an interactive discussion feature on my public access site, so will be using the NIC HIS 216 Blackboard site as the place for on-line discussion (you can reach this through your MyNIC page).  The Discussion Forums are meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to engage you with your classmates.  I will invite the face-to-face students to participate in the Blackboard discussions as well.  You should contribute to these each week.  These contributions will be an important component of the course evaluation (30%).  I will grade you on these both at the mid-point and end-point of the semester.

Before the start of each week, you should read the "Orientation For The Week" overview on the Syllabus page.  It will outline your responsibilities for the coming week, including instructions and links for the Discussion Forums and for any required readings.  I will sometimes include some required Listening or Viewing materials as well.  These resources are meant as substitutes for the in-class presentations.  Any materials listed in the Optional Extras are just that -- interesting supplementary materials connected to the topics under consideration for that particular week.  You are encouraged to access these materials, as well as related supplemental materials that you find, but I appreciate that the degree to which you have time to do this will vary throughout the semester.  Focus upon those Optional Extras that most interest you.

The most important assignment for the course is the on-going Modern European History Journal (40%).  This will consist of a series of commentaries upon the curriculum.  I will provide you with guidance here, though you will also have the opportunity to identify and focus upon some topics of particular interest.  The Journal will be due at the end of Week 11 (March 21).  I expect that there will be considerable overlap between the Journal and Discussion Forum, and indeed the assignments are designed to be complementary.

You will also be responsible for writing two book reviews in response to Svetlana Alexievich's Unwomanly Face of War and Victor Sebestyen's Revolution 1989.  Essentially expanded Journal entries, these book responses are included as separate assignments both to encourage thoughtful analysis of the books in question and to provide course evaluation components separate from the Journal alone.

I have decided not to have any exams in the on-line edition of HIS 216, though I will be expecting you to demonstrate an engagement with the course that combines close attention to detail with in-depth analysis through your Journal and Discussion Forum entries.  Those of you who are concerned about missing the context that I will provide to the in-class HIS 216 students through lectures may want to purchase a second-hand European History textbook from one of the links highlighted above.

The course is structured so that it will always be possible to work ahead of schedule when you are able to do so.

Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1  (January 7-13)

Orientation For The Week

There are a number of basic steps you should take as you begin this course.  One of those is to begin to familiarize yourself with the Mister Dan HIS 216 web-site.  The key sections of the web-site include the Distance Syllabus, the Assignments page, and the Discussion Topics page.

You will be using the Distance Syllabus not only to keep up with the course schedule but to access several key electronic resources.

The Assignments page includes Due Dates, Journal Instructions, a  list of recommended Journal topics, a note about the Optional Note-Taking Journal Appendix, and discussion questions for the three core books.  We will discuss each of those books at a specific point in the course and you will be expected to write reviews of both Unwomanly Face Of War and Revolution 1989.  I strongly recommend that you purchase all three books soon.  Two of the books are already available at the NIC Bookstore but the third, Revolution 1989, is on back-order.  One possible place to order that book is Here.

The Discussion Topics Page includes collected resources on specific themes for class discussion and debate.  In many cases, I provide you with a wide array of sources.  I certainly do not anticipate that you will have the time to read all these materials.  Rather, the expectation is that you devote at least an hour apiece to careful browsing in each of these sections at the appropriate time in the course.  The resources I have provided are not comprehensive but instead are derived from my own internet searches.  Please combine the use of these resources with your own independent research.  The core Discussion Topics are also embedded into the Syllabus.

There are many other resources on the web-site, including an extensive archive of audio and video documentaries.  You can dip into these at any time during the semester and write supplemental Journal entries on anything that captures your interest.

A second basic orientation step is to log onto the Blackboard Discussion page.  You can access this through logging into your MyNIC page.  You will be regularly accessing this page to contribute to the Discussion Forum and to read other students' comments.

A third step is completion of your letter of introduction, something I ask of all students in each of my classes.  Send me a short e-mail introducing yourself to me as a student and person.  Who are you?  Why are you taking this course?  Are there topics that are of particular interest to you?  Do you have questions or comments as we begin the semester?  There is no expectation that you share your Letter of Introduction with your classmates, but you can post it on the Discussion Forum if you choose to do so.

I have defined the official start date for HIS 216 as Monday, January 7th.  The Discussion Forums will remain open throughout the semester so you will be able to add comments to earlier Forums.  The expectation, though, is that you usually will keep up-to-date with the Forums in an effort to foster a sense of class collaboration.  Our weeks will be defined as stretching from Monday to Sunday.

Do the following for the Week 1 Curriculum:

1)  Read the syllabus and familiarize yourself with the web-site and with the structure of the course.

2)  Write your letter of introduction.  E-mail that to me and, if you decide you'd like to share it with your fellow students, also post it in the Discussion Forum.

3)  Browse extensively (1 hour?) in the short news articles both about Napoleon himself and the Napoleonic Wars.

4)  Watch at least 1 hour of the BBC Napoleon series.

5)  Read Darnton's article about the French Revolution.

6)  Write something about Napoleon in the Discussion Forum.

7)  Write a Journal entry about something Napoleon-related.  You do not need to send this to me but should save it as it will become part of your Journal.

Discussion Forum

Age Of Napoleon

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Napoleon And The Napoleonic Wars In The News  Discussion Topic.

Robert Darnton, "What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution?," New York Review Of Books (January 19, 1989).

Listening And Viewing

  Napoleon, BBC, 2015:  Watch at least one hour of the following 3-hour BBC paean to Napoleon.

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Optional Extras

"Permanent Revolution," Episode 4, Gilbert Reid's France, Ideas, CBC, May 29, 2009.

Living The French Revolution And The Age Of Napoleon Course, Great Courses (48 episodes):  An in-depth course from Princeton historian Suzanne Desan.  This is an option I only include for true keeners.  And you will need a Vancouver Island Public Library card to gain access to this video course.  But anyone who samples the course substantially will learn much more about Napoleon and his relationship to the French Revolution than I can teach in class.

Week 2  (January 14-20)

Orientation For The Week

The focus for Week 2 is on 1848.  That's a year in which Marx and Engels penned the Communist Manifesto and in which the old European order was challenged by a series of revolts.

Do the following for the Week 2 Curriculum:

1)  Read the Communist Manifesto.  It is a challenging reading.  Don't get too bogged down in the detail.  But you should still read it with care, analyzing the underlying assumptions and arguments.  Note that I have provided some study guide questions to help you here.

2)  Listen to the hour of audio programmes on the unrest of 1848, and how the legacies of that years have resonated down to the present.

3)  Write a Discussion Forum commentary upon the Communist Manifesto.

4)  Write a Journal entry about the Communist Manifesto.

Discussion Forum

Communist Manifesto

Reading Assignment

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist Party," 1848. [Note that there is an introduction and four separate sections]

Listening And Viewing

"1848: Year Of Revolution," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, January 19, 2012.  [45 mins.]

  "1848: The People's Flag And Karl Marx," Episode 15, Germany Memories Of A Nation, BBC Radio 4, October 18, 2014 [15 mins.}:  Neil MacGregor discusses the role of 1848 in German history and memory.

Optional Extras

  "Karl Marx," Episode 3, Masters Of Money, BBC, 2012:

Week 3  (January 21-27)

Orientation For The Week

We will be looking in a mid-nineteenth century Europe this week.  Rather than attempt a comprehensive survey, we will focus upon two topics: the Crimean War of 1854-56 and the unification of Germany and Italy.  Although these are significant topics in and of themselves, they have been chosen because they can be used as case studies to highlight broad and intersecting themes. 

Do the following:

1)  Browse extensively in the Crimean War Discussion Topic.

2)  Write a Discussion Forum commentary about the Crimean War.

3)  Listen to the BBC audio programme about the revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi.

4)  If possible, listen to the two optional extra short audio documentaries about 19th-century Germany.

Discussion Forum

The Crimean War As A Window Onto 19th Century Europe

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Crimean War  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

  "Garibaldi And The Risorgimento," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, December 1, 2016.  [45 mins.]

Optional Extras

  "Iron Nation," Episode 14, Germany Memories Of A Nation, BBC Radio 4, October 17, 2014 [15 mins.]:  Neil MacGregor highlights the role of iron in the history and mind of 19th-century Prussia.

"Germany Unified," Part 3, The Invention Of . . . Germany, BBC Radio 4, August 19, 2015.  [28 mins.]

Week 4  (January 28-February 3)

Orientation For The Week

We will study late nineteenth and early twentieth century colonialism this week.  We will do that in part through a focus upon two British case studies: Charles Gordon in Sudan and Cecil Rhodes in South Africa.  But we will also range more broadly through a sampling of recent news articles about the "new imperialism."  One question is whether the colonialism of this era was in important ways "new" or if rather it was but the logical extension of policies dating back to the Renaissance if not before.  Another has to do with the legacies of this era and how these should be remembered or reinterpreted.

Do the following:

1)  Browse extensively in the Cecil Rhodes And Historical Memory Discussion Topic.

2)  Browse extensively in the New Imperialism Discussion Topic.

3)  Watch Scramble For Africa documentary and listen to the BBC audio documentary about the Mahdi and General Charles Gordon.  The latter is from a 4-part series on the history of relationship between Islam and Christianity.

4)  Write a Discussion Forum about Cecil Rhodes And Historical Memory.

Discussion Forum

Cecil Rhodes, Historical Memory, And The "New Imperialism"

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Cecil Rhodes And Historical Memory Discussion Topic.

Browse extensively in New Imperialism Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

  Episode 4, The Scramble For Africa, Queen Victoria's Empire, PBS.

"The Crescent And The Cross, Part 4," [The Mahdi And General Gordon], BBC World Service, November 30, 2009.  [24 mins.]

Looking Ahead

We will discuss the Unwomanly Face Of War  in two weeks.  You should have this book by now, and ideally will have already started reading it.  You should also have purchased or ordered Proud Tower and Revolution 1989 by now.  The Journal is not due for another several weeks but you should be well started on this on-going semester assignment by now.  Ideally you'll have at least 5 pages of Journal commentary by the end of this week.  Remember that including a Note-Taking Appendix is an option as one component of your Journal.

Week 5  (February 4-10)

Orientation For The Week

2018 marked the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote in Britain.  The commemoration of this marker served as a catalyst for many articles and programmes looking back at early women's rights movement.

Do the following:

1)  Browse extensively in the Suffragettes In The News Discussion Topic.

2)  Watch the Suffragettes Forever BBC documentary.

3)  Write a Discussion Forum commentary based upon your study of the Suffragettes.

4)  Get started on reading the Unwomanly Face of War if you have not already done so.

Discussion Forums

The Suffragettes

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Suffragettes In The News  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

"Suffragettes Forever," Episode 2, The Story Of Women, BBC Two, 2015 (55 mins.).

Looking Ahead

We will discuss the Unwomanly Face of War next week.

Week 6  (February 11-17)

Orientation For The Week

We will focus upon Svetlana Alexievich's oral history of Soviet women during World War II.  We're breaking the chronological flow of the course this week, but the theme does connect to last week's topic, and in my judgment the Unwomanly Face Of War was a better choice for your first book response than Proud Tower.

Do the following:

1)  Finish reading the Unwomanly Face of War.

2)  Engage in on-line Discussion about your response to Alexievich's book.

3)  Write your Reading Response to the Unwomanly Face of War and submit that to me by Thursday, February 21.

4)  Use the Reading Break to catch up on Discussion Topic commentaries and Journal work remaining from the first six weeks.

Discussion Forums

Unwomanly Face Of War

Reading Assignment

Svetlana Alexievich, Unwomanly Face Of War: An Oral History Of Women In World War II.  New York: Random House, 2018.

***Family Day And Reading Break, February 18-22

***Unwomanly Face Of War Reading Response Due Thursday, February 21

Week 7  (February 25-March 3)

Orientation For The Week

World War I is one of the most important events in all of European history.  Rather than attempt to provide a comprehensive introduction to the war, I have chosen instead to offer a snapshot view of the war through two Discussion Topics.  The first looks in at one iconic occurrence during the first Winter of the war.  The second takes advantage of the coincidence that there has been various 100-year anniversaries associated with the Great War that have been commemorated between 2014 and 2018.  That Discussion Topic collects a series of news articles about these anniversaries.  Many offer analysis about the legacies of World War I from the perspective of our own day.

Do the following:

1)  Browse extensively in the Christmas Truce Discussion Topic.

2)  Add your commentary about the Christmas Truce to the Discussion Forum.

3)  Browse extensively in the Great War At 100 Discussion Topic.

4)  Watch the 1914: Killing Fields documentary.

5)  If possible, watch at least an hour from either the Long Shadow or First World War One documentary series.

Discussion Forum

The Christmas Truce

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Christmas Truce Discussion Topic.

Browse extensively in Great War At 100 Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

  "1914: Killing Fields," Episode 2, People's Century, PBS:

Optional Extras

***Watch at least one hour from either the Long Shadow or First World War One documentary series --

Long Shadow, BBC:

Episode 1, Remembering And Understanding:

Episode 2, Ballots And Bullets:

Episode 3, Us And Them:

  First World War:

Episode 1, To Arms:

Episode 2, Under The Eagle:

Episode 3, Global War:

Episode 4, Jihad:

Episode 5, Shackled To A Corpse, 1914-1916:

Episode 6, Breaking The Deadlock, 1915-1917:

Episode 7, Blockade, 1916-1917:

Episode 8, Revolution, 1917:

Episode 9, Germany's Last Gamble, 1918:

Episode 10, War Without End:

Looking Ahead

We will discuss the Proud Tower  in two weeks.  Do you best to read as much of this overview of Europe on the eve of World War I as possible.  I do expect you to write a book response to Tuchman's volume, but this will not be graded separately but instead can be folded into the Journal as a major entry.  Remember that including a Note-Taking Appendix is an option as one component of your Journal.

Week (March 4-10)

Orientation For The Week

2017 marked the 100th anniversaries of both the February and October Revolutions in Russia.  The commemorations were very muted in Moscow and it is striking that the national government chose to emphasize the glories of the Great Patriotic War (World War II) on November 7th, the most important day for marking the October Revolution.

No doubt one important factor here is that overt challenges to the authority of the government are not in favour in Russia these days.  But on a deeper level, Russians seem confused about where to place the Revolution and indeed the 1917-1991 time period within the national story.  To what degree should the Revolution be celebrated and to what degree should it be framed as a tragedy?  What is its relationship to the history of Russia since 1991?  And where should the Czarist era fit within Russian history?

These questions are at the heart of this week's studies.  Since the Fall of the Soviet Union, Russians have debated whether Lenin's preserved body should be removed from Red Square.  There also have been debates about how and whether to honor the members of the royal family who were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  Both of the discussions are interesting on their terms, but I also see them as symbolic focal points for wrestling with the legacies of the Revolution.  I have put together an extensive series of resources that trace the story of the Romanovs' Bones and Lenin's Body since the 1991 lowering of the Soviet flag from the Kremlin.

Do the following:

1)  Read many articles in the Romanov and Lenin Discussion Topic.  Make a Discussion Forum contribution that addresses the central question.  What do the post-1991 stories of the bones of the Romanovs and the body of Lenin reveal about Russians' relationship with their past and their revolution?

2)  Browse in the Russian Revolution at 100 Discussion Topic.

3)  Watch the "1917: Red Flag" PBS documentary.  This hour-long video offers an overview of the Russian Revolution and the Stalin Era that followed.

Discussion Forum

Romanov's Bones And Lenin's Body

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Romanovs' Bones And Lenin's Body Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

  "1917: Red Flag," Episode 3, People's Century, PBS:

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in Russian Revolution At 100 Discussion Topic.

Browse extensively in Stalin And Historical Memory Discussion Topic.

Week 9  (March 11-17)

Orientation For The Week

Barbara Tuchman's in-depth study of Europe and North America on the eve of the Great War was the sequel to her runaway non-fiction bestseller Guns of August.  We will focus upon Proud Tower this week.  The Americans chapters are listed as optional reading.  Even so, I do not necessarily expect you to get through this entire book.  I do, however, ask you to make a strong effort to engage substantially with this volume.

Do the following:

1)  Read Proud Tower.

2)  Engage in Discussion Forum commentary about Tuchman's book.

3)  Write a substantial (2+ pages) Journal entry based upon Proud Tower.

Discussion Forum

Proud Tower

Reading Assignment

Barbara Tuchman, Proud Tower: A Portrait Of The World Before The War.  New York: Random House, 1996.

Looking Ahead

The Journal is due at the end of March.  You may want to review the check list of Recommended Journal entries on the Assignment page once again.  Those Recommended entries include a Proud Tower book response; an analysis of at least one piece of Nazi Propaganda; and a 2+ page summary and analysis of your Remembering World War II Nation study.  The vast majority of your time in HIS 216 during the next three weeks will likely be devoted to the completion of those three entries and their accompanying Discussion Forum contributions.

Week 10  (March 18-24)

Orientation For The Week

The focus for this week is Nazi Propaganda.  An American professor has translated several Nazi-era primary documents and assembled them into his on-line German Propaganda Archive.  That will be one resource for your research.  I am also asking you to read the children's book The Toadstool so that we also have one item that we read together.

Do the following:

1)  Browse in the 1933-1945 Section Of The German Propaganda Archive.  Select one document and use that as the basis for a Discussion Forum contribution.  Describe and analyze your document?  Why did you choose it and what is interesting about it?

2)  Read Toadstool.  Notes the Questions to Consider that are applicable both for this resource and for the propaganda archive as well.

3)  Watch the PBS documentary "1933: Master Race"

4)  Dip into the Optional Extras if you have the time to do so.

Discussion Forum

Nazi Propaganda And Toadstool

Student Preparation

Nazi Propaganda  --  Research in the 1933-1945 Section of the German Propaganda Archive Select  one interesting item from the German Propaganda Archive.  Analyze that document and use it as the basis for a Discussion Forum Contribution.  You should also write at least one Journal entry about Nazi Propaganda.

Toadstool --  Browse carefully in Toadstool Toadstool was a Nazi-sponsored book that taught German children how to recognize the characteristics of the "poisonous mushroom" (ie. the Jew).  Click on individual frames for enlarged images.  Note also that many of the captions include links to stories from the book.

Combine your browsing in the Propaganda Archive with a careful reading of Toadstool to begin to dissect the place of anti-Semitism within Nazi ideology.  Here are some Questions To Consider.

Listening And Viewing

"1933: Master Race," People's Century, PBS, 1995.  [55 mins]

Optional Extras

  Nazis -- A Warning From History, BBC, 1997:

Helped Into Power, Episode 1:

Chaos And Consent, Episode 2:

The Wrong War, Episode 3:

The Wild East, Episode 4:

The Road To Treblinka, Episode 5:

Fighting To The End, Episode 6:

  War Of The Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin, BBC, 1999:

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Looking Ahead

The Journal is due at the end of next week.  It's fine to edit some earlier entries but your project should already be close to being presentable.


Week 11  (March 25-31)

Orientation For The Week

The theme for this week is War and Memory.  Each of you will be choosing a particular nation or an associated topic, and then researching how World War II and its legacies have been remembered and interpreted in that particular nation or for an associated topic.  A common theme will be public controversies about divisive issues or events.  The Discussion Forum will become a place for you to share the most interesting things you learned from your case study.

Do the following:

1)  Choose a Remembering World War II topic from the Discussion Topic grid.

2)  Browse extensively in the resource materials provided for your topic.

3)  Optional:  Complement the provided archive with your own independent research if you would like to do so.

4)  Write a Discussion Forum commentary that shares your research findings.

5)  Write a Remembering World II Journal entry.

6)  E-mail your Journal as one file to the instructor for evaluation.

Discussion Forum

Remembering World War II

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in your Remembering World War II Topic.

***Journal Due Sunday, March 31

Week 12  (April 1-7)

Orientation For The Week

As with the Great War, I've highlighted just a slice of the Cold War for consideration in this course rather than attempt to provide you with a full introduction to this extensive topic.  The BBC Lost Communism series examines everyday life behind the Iron Curtain.

Do the following:

1)  Watch at least two hours from the Lost World of Communism BBC documentary series.

2)  Make a Discussion Forum commentary based upon your Lost World of Communism viewing.

3)  Get started on reading Revolution 1989.

Discussion Forum

The Lost World Of Communism

Listening And Viewing

***Watch at least two of the hour-long episodes from the BBC's The Lost World Of Communism documentary series --


"A Socialist Paradise [East Germany]," Part 1, The Lost World Of Communism, BBC, 2009.  [59 mins]

"The Kingdom Of Forgetting [Czechoslovakia]," Part 2, The Lost World Of Communism, BBC, 2009.  [59 mins]

"Socialism In One Family [Romania]," Part 3, The Lost World Of Communism, BBC, 2009.  [59 mins]

Optional Extras

  "In The Former East Germany, Frank Zappa Lives On As A Beacon Of Freedom," World In Words, PRI, August 9, 2017.

Looking Ahead

We will discuss Revolution 1989 next week and your reading response on that book is then due Friday, April 19.


Week 13  (April 8-14)

Orientation For The Week

The focus for this week is upon Victor Sebestyen's history of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  You need to complete a review of Revolution 1989 as your final HIS 216 course responsiblity.

Do the following:

1)  Finish reading Revolution 1989.

2)  Engage in Discussion Forum commentary about Sebestyen's book.

3)  Write a book response (approximately 3 pages) on Revolution 1989.

Discussion Forum

Revolution 1989

Reading Assignment

Victor Sebestyen, Revolution 1989: The Fall Of The Soviet Empire.  London: Phoenix, 2010.

Optional Extras

  "Rise And Fall Of The Russian Oligarchs" (2006, 83 minutes).

"The Causes And Consequences Of Brexit: Timothy Garton Ash," Ideas, CBC, January 26, 2017.

***Revolution 1989 Reading Response Due Friday April 19


Letter Of Introduction 1%
Unwomanly Face Of War Reading Response 15%
First Half Participation 15%
Journal 40%
Revolution 1989 Reading Response 14%
Second Half Participation 15%


a)  Letter Of Introduction (1%)

Please e-mail me an informal letter of introduction of at least one long paragraph in the first few days of the semester.  You do not need to answer all the following questions, but they may provide you with helpful cues.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  What are your interests?  How would you begin to introduce yourself and what might it be useful or interesting for me to know as your teacher?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts as you enter it?  Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course?  Those students who are in more than one class with me this semester do not need to write a separate letter for each course.

b)  Unwomanly Face Of War Reading Response (15%)

The first assignment will be your written analysis (approximately 3 double-spaced pages) of Nobel Literature Prize Winner Svetlana Alexievich's oral history of women in World War II Russia.

c)  The Journal (40%)

The student Journal is the main assignment in this class.  The purpose of the Journal is to provide you the opportunity for frequent thoughtful, analytical, and personal commentary upon course-related material.  The advantages of the Journal, to my mind, are that it breaks work down into regular and manageable chunks, and that it enables you to seize hold of the curriculum in a way which reflects your own interests and style.  The entries will, no doubt, vary in format, length, and quality. Although it's fine if some entries read more like summary than analysis, a major purpose of the Journal is to engage you with the curriculum as an active interpreter and critical analyst.  In order to give you a basic structure and to clearly communicate my expectations, I will provide certain mandated entries and also provide you with a list of recommended entries.  But I do challenge you to ask yourself throughout the semester how you best can use the Journal requirement as a way of fostering your own learning.  The Journal is premised on the expectation that you will be working on it regularly throughout the semester.  You will have considerable opportunity to decide which topics are of more interest to you.  I recommend that you average at least one Journal entry per week.  I will collect Journals at the mid-point of the semester to make sure that you are making adequate progress.  The Journals will not receive a grade at that time, however, but only after being handed in at the 11-week mark.  This is an assignment that demands not only self-discipline but also a certain self-awareness.  It is not a one size fits all assignment so some solid Journals may look quite different than others.  But I recommend that you think in terms of an approximate length of 20+ double-spaced pages of your original analysis unless you plan to avail yourself of the Notes Appendix option.

d)  Revolution 1989 Reading Response (14%)

The final assignment will be your written analysis (approximately 3 double-spaced pages) of Victor Sebestyen's history of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet empire (3+ double-spaced pages).  Revolution 1989 is back-ordered at the bookstore and you may need to order your own copy..

e)  Class Participation (30%)

The class participation grade will be based upon your participation in the on-line Discussion Forums.  This will be the one place where you will have the opportunity to interact with your classmates.

The Discussion Forums will be located on the Blackboard Learn companion web-site.  I will post at least one Discussion Question each week.  But you are also encouraged to initiate your own threads and to share Journal entries with your classmates.  I hope that the Discussion Forums will encourage thoughtful interactive dialogue and that it will also serve to break down the sense of isolation that can be associated with on-line learning.  Each of you should ask yourself how best to combine this component of the course with the Journal.  The two assignments are meant to complement each other, and it is fully appropriate to draw extensively from your Journal for the Discussion Forums.

My expectation is that your should contribute to the Discussion Forums on a weekly basis.  Each Discussion Forum will remain open until the end of the semester.  I will assign a first-half Class Participation grade (15%) at the Reading Break and then evaluate you again at the end of the course (15%).

A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty  about what is permitted here.

Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Grading System (4-41)



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