North Island College Winter 2018

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 Discovery 203 on Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 am.  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:  Wed. 11:30 am - 12:30 pm; Thurs. 1:00 - 2:00 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.

By the end of this course you should be able to:

1.  Account for the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte and place his empire within the broader context of the French Revolution.

2.  Discuss the intensification of nationalism in the nineteenth century, including the unification of Italy and Germany.

3.  Analyze the origins, impact, and interrelationships of such major philosophies as conservatism, liberalism, positivism, socialism, communism, anarchism, Darwinism, and feminism.

4.  Examine the development and significance of modern European imperialism.

5.  Outline the causes and consequences of World War I.

6.  Assess the importance of the Russian Revolution, using Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin not only as reference points but also as entryways to explore that revolution's core issues.

7.  Discuss Fascism in interwar Europe, including the rise to power of Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany.

8.  Analyze the causes, course, and significance of World War II.

9.  Explain the role of Europe in the Cold War, and link discussion of the process of decolonization to post-World War II bipolar conflict between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

10.  Assess the reasons for and consequences of the break-up of the Soviet Union.

11.  Place the current movement for European unity within broad historical context.

12.  Think more critically both about the complex connections between the past, present, and the future, and about the ways in which history is constructed, written, and reinterpreted.


Astolphe De Custine, Letters From Russia (New York: Penguin Classic, 2014).

Geert Mak, In Europe: Travels Through The Twentieth Century (New York: Vintage, 2008).

Primo Levi, Drowned And The Saved (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017).

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.

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 also invite the face-to-face students to participate in the Blackboard discussions as well.  You should contribute to these each week.

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, though I will also add some slide shows and outline notes from my face-to-face lectures.  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, if you have the time to do so.

The most important assignment for the course is the on-going Modern European History Journal.  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 graded at the mid-way point of the semester (immediately after our Reading Week) and at the term's conclusion.  I expect that there will be considerable overlap between the Journal and Discussion Forum.

The other major assignment will be the ISMs Project, a research exercise which will be due shortly before the Reading Break.  The focus here will be on the various ideologies and social theories that were shaped by Europe's "Long Nineteenth Century" (1789-1914).

There will not be a mid-term exam, but there will be a final exam that will ask you to write some short essays comparing and contrasting different historical figures and terms encountered during the semester.

Tentative Class Schedule

Part 1:  The Long Nineteenth Century

Week 1  (January 3-14):  What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution?

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 this web-site and with the structure of the course.  The key sections of the web-site include the Distance Syllabus, the Assignments page, and the Discussion Topics page.

The Assignments page includes itemized lists of recommended Journal topics, instructions for a couple of mini-projects (these will be folded into the Journal), instructions for the ISMs Project, and discussion questions for the three core books.  We will discuss each of those books at a specific point in the course.  I strong recommend that you purchase all three books (Letters From Russia, In Europe, and Drowned and the Saved) soon.  I have decided not to require a standard comprehensive history textbook, though some of you may find it useful to purchase one.  I have listed a couple of possibilities above.

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.

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.  You are encouraged to write Journal entries on anything that you identify items that you determine to be of particular interest.

Another orientation step is to log onto the Blackboard Discussion page.  I have included a link to that from this web-site, but it may be easier to just reach it through logging onto MyNIC.

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 Wednesday, January 3rd, and have extended our first "week" by a few days and have not packed too much work into it, both because I want you to orient yourself to the course and because inevitably there will be some flux as the semester begins.

HIS 216 is a stand-alone elective. But it also is loosely paired with HIS 215 to offer those students who want to study European History from the Renaissance to the present with an opportunity to do so.

The French Revolution has been chosen as a dividing point, with HIS 215 ending with the aftermath of the Terror, and HIS 216 then picking up with the rise of Napoleon.  The French Revolution casts a shadow over all of nineteenth century European history, however, so it is important to spend some time thinking about the French Revolution before moving on to the Age of Napoleon.

Do the following in regards to the Week 1 Curriculum:

1)  Read Darnton's article.

2)  Make at least a short contribution to the What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution Discussion Forum.

3)  Watch the History Channel Documentary below on the French Revolution.

4)  Optional:  Listen to the Ideas pod-cast and/or watch the BBC "The French Revolution: Tearing Up History" documentary.

5)  Recommended:  Write at least a short Journal entry on something related to the French Revolution.  An obvious possibility here would be a reading response to Darnton's article.

6)  If you have time, move into the Week 2 Age Of Napoleon materials before January 15th.  The course is structured so that it will always be possible to work ahead of schedule when you are able to do so.

Discussion Forum

What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution?

Reading Assignment

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

Listening And Viewing

"The French Revolution," History Channel:

Optional Extras

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

"The French Revolution: Tearing Up History," BBC, 2014:

Looking Ahead

Next week will be organized around the Age of Napoleon.  As mentioned above, it's great if you get a chance to move into this material ahead of schedule.

Week 2  (January 15-21):  The Age Of Napoleon

Orientation For The Week

The focus for his week is upon Napoleon and Napoleon's Europe.  I have collected a series of short news articles both about Napoleon himself and the Napoleonic Wars.  Do some extensive browsing in that Discussion Topic.  The BBC audio series Napoleon -- The Man And The Myths is, in my opinion, a well-done presentation.  The 5 episodes are 15 minutes in length apiece.  I do not insist that you listen to the complete series but recommend that you do so.  Andrew Roberts likewise is the host for the 3-hour BBC television documentary that I have listed as an optional extra.

Write something about Napoleon in the Discussion Forum.

You do not need to write a Journal entry about Napoleon.  Part of the challenge in HIS 216 will be deciding which topics to write about and how to make the Journal work for you and your education.  My basic expectation, though, is that you will be writing regularly in your Journal throughout the semester and that you will be averaging at least a Journal entry a week.

Discussion Forum

Age Of Napoleon

Reading Assignment

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

Listening And Viewing

Listen to at least one of the following episodes but ideally several.

  "Episode 1: Napoleon -- The Man And The Myths," BBC Radio 4, June 15, 2015.

"Episode 2: Napoleon -- The Man And The Myths," BBC Radio 4, June 16, 2015.

"Episode 3: Napoleon -- The Man And The Myths," BBC Radio 4, June 17, 2015.

"Episode 4: Napoleon -- The Man And The Myths," BBC Radio 4, June 18, 2015.

"Episode 5: Napoleon -- The Man And The Myths," BBC Radio 4, June 19, 2015.

Lecture Materials

Lecture:  "From the Sublime to the Ridiculous": The Rise and Fall of Napoleon's Empire:  This is a PDF version of the Powerpoint I used in class for my Napoleon lecture.

Optional Extras

  Napoleon, BBC, 2015:

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

  "Napoleon The Great?: A Debate With Andrew Roberts, Adam Zamoyski And Jerry Paxman," Intelligence Squared, November 24, 2014.

Looking Ahead

 The ISMs assignment is due on Thursday, February 8th, and is worth 20% of your course grade.  The structure for the project is such that it is well possible to break it into components that stretch over many days or even a couple of weeks.  Instructions for the assignment, as well as the accompanying grid, are posted on the Assignments page.  We will also talk more about the ISMs Project as a group.  I recommend that you look at the instructions ands template, however, and then ask me to clear up anything that seems confusing.

Week 3  (January 22-28):  A Springtime Of Nations?

Orientation For The Week

One theme for this week is the tumult of the year 1848.  You are being asked to listen to a BBC audio documentary about the failed revolutions of that year and to read the Communist Manifesto, no doubt the most important document of that year (and one of the most important documents of the entire nineteenth century).  You should also listen to the In Our Time episode about Garibaldi and Italian nationalism, and do some browsing on articles associated with the Crimean War.

The Communist Manifesto is a challenging reading.  You should read it with care and then analyze it.  Note that I have provided some study guide questions to help you here.  You may also find that the Optional Extras provide you with important background context.

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]

Browse extensively in  Crimean War  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

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

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

Lecture Materials

Lecture: "A Springtime Of Nations?": Europe, 1815-1871

Optional Extras

Louis Menand, "Karl Marx, Yesterday And Today," New Yorker (October 10, 2016).

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

Looking Ahead

A heavy week next week, with both the "Germany -- Memories Of A Nation" BBC audio series and our first book (Astolphe De Custine's Letters From Russia) featured.  And then the ISMs Project is due the following week before we head into the Reading Break.

Week 4  (January 29-February 4):  Germany -- Memories Of A Nation

Orientation For The Week

This week features our first book selection, Astolphe De Custine's Letters From Russia.  This is a famous account of a mid-19th century tour of Russia by a French aristocrat.  I have condensed down your reading to approximately 200 pages (the full memoir stretches to over 600 pages).  It's an interesting primary document that I read for the first time over the holidays -- a worthwhile addition to the course, I think, though I was hoping for that much more than what it offers.

I've thus chosen to pair Custine's view of Russia with former British Museum director Neil MacGregor's exploration of the meaning of "Germanness."  This is an extraordinary 30-part BBC podcast series that ranges over several centuries of German history using a thematic approach.  There is also a companion book that was one of the core selections in the Fall 2017 edition of HIS 215.  I have included links to the 20 20-minute audio episodes that overlap chronologically with HIS 216.  Listen to at least three or for of these episodes.  If you become entranced with the series , and decide to listen to 10 or more episodes, it would be appropriate to substitute MacGregor's audio series for the Custine book.  Regardless, you should write something about "Germany--Memories Of A Nation" in the Discussion Forum.

Discussion Forum

Germany -- Memories Of A Nation

Reading Assignment

Astolphe De Custine, Letters From Russia.  New York: Penguin Classic, 2014.

Listening And Viewing

  Listen extensively in  Germany -- Memories Of A Nation  Discussion Topic.

Looking Ahead

The ISMs Project is due next Thursday.  I will grant a short extension to anyone who needs a couple extra days to complete the assignment.

Week 5  (February 5-11):  The ISMs

Orientation For The Week

Complete your ISMS project using the template provided on the Assignments page.  Make contributions to both the ISMs and Cecil Rhodes And Historical Memory Discussion Forums.  Both the "Scramble For Africa" and "Crescent And The Cross" documentaries are interesting ones.  You can access those during the Reading Week if you are focused on completing your ISMS project.

Discussion Forums


Cecil Rhodes And Historical Memory

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Cecil Rhodes And Historical Memory 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.]

Lecture Materials

Lecture: "A Place In The Sun" -- The New Imperialism

Looking Ahead

The First-Half Journal will be due in two weeks.  Remember that a recommended check-list for the First-Half Journal is included as one component on the Assignments page.  We will also discuss the first half of Geert Mak's In Europe when we return after the Reading Break.  I am extraordinarily impressed by this book.  I appreciate that very extensive reading will be involved here.  My expectation is that you make a good-faith effort to read as much of the first half of the book as possible before February 25th.  You should include an entry or entries about In Europe in your Journal.  Ideally, you will complete this for your First-Half Journal, though it's also fully acceptable to include entries on the first 300 pages of Mak in both your First- and Second-Half Journals or even to have a comprehensive entry delay until your Second-Half Journal.

***ISMs Assignment Due Thursday, February 8

***Family Day And Reading Break, February 12-16

Part 2:  Europe At War

Week 6  (February 19-25):  In Europe

Orientation For The Week

The Dutch journalist Geert Mak rented a camper van in 1999 and then spent the year traveling around Europe.  He then used this adventure as the basis both for a 35-hour documentaries series on public television and for a surprise best-selling book in which he revisited many of the important events of the twentieth century.  That book is In Europe.  I would like you to read at least half the book and use it as the basis for a major Journal entry.

Discussion Forum

 In Europe, Part I

Reading Assignment

Geert Mak, In Europe: Travels Through The Twentieth Century.  New York: Vintage, 2008. (Read through to the end of Chapter V -- May: 1922-39.  In my edition, this means reading pp. 1-339)

Optional Extras

Long Shadow, BBC:

Episode 1, Remembering And Understanding:

Episode 2, Ballots And Bullets:

Episode 3, Us And Them:

Looking Ahead

In Europe differs from a standard history textbook but does, in my opinion, nonetheless offer a good introduction to the vast sweep of twentieth-century European history.  I encourage you to read the entire book if you find it to be an interesting selection.

***First Half Journal Due Thursday, February 22

Week (February 26-March 4): The Great War At 100

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.

Discussion Forum

The Christmas Truce and The Great War At 100

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:

Lecture Materials

Lecture:  "The Lights Are Going Out Across Europe" -- The Great War

Optional Extras

  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:

Week 8  (March 5-11):  The Russian Revolution

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 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.a

Discussion Forum

Romanov's Bones And Lenin's Body

Reading Assignment

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

Browse extensively in Russian Revolution At 100 Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

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

Lecture Materials

The Romanovs' Bones And Lenin's Body

Russian Revolution At 100

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in Spanish Civil War Discussion Topic.

Joshua Hammer, "Vladimir Lenin's Return Journey To Russia Changed The World Forever," Smithsonian (March 2017).

Looking Ahead

I have attempted to assign specific and manageable academic tasks for the remaining weeks of the semester.  I do not want to burden you with onerous and unrealistic demands.  However, I have tried to identify interesting optional materials.  For example, I have added links to some extra documentaries.  I encourage you to sample some of these or, indeed, to watch an entire series or two.  Such supplemental activities can then very easily be integrated into the Journal.

The film-maker Laurence Rees has produced a remarkable series of documentaries that focus on the World War II era and the decade leading up to the war.  I have included links to these series -- "The Nazis, A Warning From History"; "War Of The Century -- When Hitler Fought Stalin"; and "Auschwitz -- Nazis And The Final Solution" --  as Optional Extras for the next two weeks.

Week 9  (March 12-18):  Nazi Propaganda

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]

Lecture Materials

Lecture:  Rise Of The Nazis -- The Dream Of A Thousand Year Reich

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in Bloodlands Discussion Topic.

  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

Next week is devoted to Primo Levi's dark but deep Holocaust memoir.  It will be the last required major reading of the course, though I also encourage you to continue on and read as much of In Europe as possible.  You may want to get started on Drowned and the Saved.

Week 10  (March 19-25):  Drowned And The Saved

Orientation For The Week

Read Primo Levi's Drowned and the Saved.  Make a Discussion Forum contribution based upon your reading and also use the book as the focus for an anchor Journal entry.  I have some questions to consider which you can access in the Discussion Forum section below.

Discussion Forum

Drowned And The Saved

Reading Assignment

Primo Levi, Drowned And The Saved.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017.

Optional Extras

  Auschwitz -- Nazis And The Final Solution, BBC:

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Week 11  (March 26-April 1):  The Cold War

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.  I have limited the responsibilities for this week to give you an opportunity to catch up on your work and also as an encouragement for you to sample the excellent documentaries highlighted below.  The BBC Lost Communism series examines everyday life behind the Iron Curtain.  The "Rise And Fall of the Russian Oligarchs" is an extraordinary look in at the rich and powerful in Russia in the era between the Fall of the Soviet Union and the Rise of Vladimir Putin.

Do the following:

1)  Listen to the 25-minute audio feature on Frank Zappa and the Cold War.  Ideally make a Discussion Forum Contribution on this topic.

2)  Watch the "1989" People Power" PBS documentary.

3)  If you have time, watch the "Rise And Fall Of The Russian Oligarchs" or sample the BBC Lost Communism series.

Discussion Forum

Frank Zappa And The Cold War

Listening And Viewing

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

"1989: People Power," People's Century:

Lecture Materials

Lecture:  "An Iron Curtain Has Descended Across The Continent" -- The Cold War

Optional Extras


"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]

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

Michael Ignatieff, "The Hero Europe Needed," Atlantic (March 2015).

Looking Ahead

I will introduce the Final Exam this week and provide some study materials on-line.


Week 12  (April 2-8):  Nations In The News

Orientation For The Week

The final in-class responsibility for HIS 216 is a mini-research exercise in which you engage is a few hours of research about a contemporary European theme of interest and then attempt to place this topic in historical context.  The instructions are outlined in the Discussion Forum below.  I am asking you to either look in at one specific European nation and find three mini-topics of interest (Option A) or identify a theme of interest and then explore that theme using three nations as case studies (Option B).  You should write a substantial Journal entry based upon this research and highlight what was most interesting about it in the Discussion Forum.

Discussion Forum

Nations In The News

Lecture Materials

Lecture:  Dreams Of A United Europe

Optional Reading Assignment

Geert Mak, In Europe: Travels Through The Twentieth Century.  New York: Vintage, 2008. (Read Chapters IX-XII)

Optional Extras

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

Looking Ahead


***Second-Half Journal Due Friday, April 20


ISMS Assignment 20%
First Half  Journal 25%
Second Half Journal 25%
Final Exam 15%
Class Participation 15%

a)  The ISMS Assignment (20%)

The ISMs assignment will ask you to engage in intensive research on the history of the ideologies that developed in Europe in the 1789-1914 era.

b)  The Journal (50%)

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 journal will be graded in two installments.  It will be due just after Reading Break.  This installment will count for 25% of the course grade.  The journal will then again be due on the day of the Final Exam.  This installment will count for 25% of the course grade.

In order to give you a basic structure and to clearly communicate my expectations, I will specify certain mandated entries and also provide a suggested format for certain types of entries.  However, while it is required that all work in the journal be your own original writing, you are encouraged to be imaginative in your own investigation and analysis of European History.

The entries will, no doubt, vary in format, length and quality.  Do not hesitate to take risks and to express your own opinions.  It's fine if some entries read more like summary than analysis.  It can be useful to put what you have learned from an article or a video into your own words.  Other entries may make unexpected connections between the European past and issues of particular concern to you.  Try, however, not to succumb to the temptation to write in an easy, stream-of-consciousness style.  There is no inherent tension between analytical rigour and personal insight.

A list of recommended entries is included on the Assignment page of the course web-site.  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.

c)  Final Exam (15%)

There is no mid-term but there will be a final exam in which you will be asked to write mini-essays about some key historical figures and events.  A detailed preparation sheet will be handed out well before the exam date.

d)  Class Participation (15%)

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.

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.



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