North Island College Winter 2021

Delivery Format: Digital Learning Unscheduled (We will not meet as a group via videoconferencing.  You will be expected to spend an average of 5+ hours a week on the course yourself.)

Dates:  January 11 - April 11

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office Phone:  334-5000, Extension 4024

Web- Site for Course:  https://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 reading, video, student research, and on-line discussion forums.

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.


**The Alexievich and Tharoor texts will serve as one main fulcrum for the course.  It is important that you acquire these books.  They are available for purchase at the NIC Bookstore.

Svetlana Alexievich, Unwomanly Face Of War: An Oral History Of Women In World War II (New York: Random House, 2017).

Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire: What The British Did To India (Harmandsworth: Penguin UK, 2017).

Optional Textbook:  I have decided not to include a textbook as one of the required HIS 216 readings.  Those who would like a systematic survey of modern European history as an extra reference may find the following volume helpful, though there is no expectation that you acquire this text:

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.

Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1  (January 11-17)

Orientation For Week 1

Discussion Forum Contributions

Napoleon In The News

Pandemic Playhouse:  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:  Watch through Films On Demand in the NIC Library Database or through a Public Access Website.

Episode 2:  Watch through Films On Demand in the NIC Library Database or through a Public Access Website.

Episode 3:  Watch through Films On Demand in the NIC Library Database or through a Public Access Website.

Optional Extras

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

"Napoleon: From Empire To Exile," Forum, BBC World Service, March 31, 2019.

"Napoleon: The Man Behind The Myth With Adam Zamoyski And Andrew Roberts," How To Academy, October 29, 2018.

"Napoleon In Russia," Epic History TV, 2020.

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 18-24)

Orientation For Week 2

Discussion Forum Contributions

Communist Manifesto

Pandemic Playhouse:  Liberty Leading The People

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

"Eugene Delacroix: Liberty Leading The People," Private Life Of A Masterpiece, BBC, 2005.  [48 mins]:  A superb video documentary from the series that explores the history behind individual famous paintings.

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

"Marx: Marx And His Heirs," DW Documentary, May 5, 2018.  [43 mins.]

***Saturday, January 23:  What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution Seminar Note Due (5%)

Week 3  (January 25-31)

Orientation For Week 3

Discussion Forum Contributions

The Crimean War As A Window Onto 19th Century Europe

Pandemic Playhouse: Garibaldi And The Risorgimento

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Crimean War  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

"Italian And German Unification," Episode 27, Crash Course European History, November 26, 2019.  [14 mins.]

  "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.]

Looking Ahead

Week 4  (February 1-7)

Orientation For Week 4

Discussion Forum Contributions

Cecil Rhodes In Marble

King Leopold's Ghost

Suffragettes In The News

Pandemic Playhouse: The Scramble For Africa

Pandemic Playhouse: Sophia -- Suffragette Princess

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Cecil Rhodes, King Leopold And Historical Memory Discussion Topic.

Browse extensively in  Suffragettes In The News  Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

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

Optional Extras

  "Sophia: Suffragette Princess," BBC, 2015:  A 30-minute documentary that tells the remarkable story of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, a prominent British suffragette and daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last emperor of an independent Sikh kingdom who was exiled by the British from the Punjab to England.  Some students may also be interested in the story of her father as well.  There is an excellent documentary that focuses on his biography.  It would be appropriate to watch this as an Optional Extra at any point during the semester and to integrate notes and comments about that video into your Journal:  "The Stolen Maharajah -- Britain's Indian Royal," BBC, 2018.  ( 59 mins)

"The Crescent And The Cross, Part 4," [The Mahdi And General Gordon], BBC World Service, November 30, 2009.  [24 mins]  An audio documentary on late-nineteenth-century Sudan that nicely complements Episode 4 of Queen Victoria's Empire.

"White King, Red Rubber, Black Death," Storyville, BBC, 2013.  [112 mins]  A feature documentary about King Leopold II's Congo.

Browse extensively in New Imperialism Discussion Topic.

***Monday, February 8:  Journal-In-Progress Due (This check-in is ungraded but compulsory.  Failure to submit your Journal-In-Progress this week may lead to a lowering of your Journal grade later in the semester)

Week 5  (February 8-14)

Orientation For Week 5

Discussion Forum Contributions

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.

Svetlana Alexievich during the Summer 2020 Belarus protests against the rule of authoritarian leader Alexandeer Lukashenko

***Family Day And Reading Break, February 15-21

*** Thursday, February 18, Unwomanly Face Of War Mini-Essay Due

Week 6  (February 22-28)

Orientation For Week 6

Discussion Forum Contributions

The Christmas Truce

Pandemic Playhouse: Long Shadow

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Christmas Truce Discussion Topic.

Jay Winter, "How The Great War Shaped The World," Atlantic (August 2014).

Listening And Viewing

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

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in Great War At 100 Discussion Topic.

***Watch at least one hour from either of the following documentary series:

Long Shadow, BBC, 2014:

Episode 1, Remembering And Understanding:  Watch through Films On Demand in the NIC Library Database of through a Public Access Website.

Episode 2, Ballots And Bullets:  Watch through Films On Demand in the NIC Library Database of through a Public Access Website.

Episode 3, Us And Them:  Watch through Films On Demand in the NIC Library Database of through a Public Access Website.

  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 7  (March 1-7)

Orientation For Week 7

Discussion Forum Contributions

Romanov's Bones And Lenin's Body

Pandemic Playhouse:  1917 -- Red Flag

Pandemic Playhouse:  In The Shadow Of Red October

Reading Assignment

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

Orlando Figes, "From Tsar To USSR: Russia's Chaotic Year Of Revolution," National Geographic History Magazine (October 25, 2017)

Listening And Viewing

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

"In The Shadow Of Red October," BBC News, 2017.  [23 mins.]

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in Russian Revolution At 100 Discussion Topic.

"The Russian Revolution -- Oversimplified," August 17, 2020.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Orlando Figes:  A comprehensive overview of the Russian Revolution and Soviet-era history from University of London historian Orlando Figes.

Looking Ahead

Week (March 8-14)

Orientation For Week 8

Discussion Forum Contributions

Nazi Propaganda And Toadstool

Pandemic Playhouse:  Nazis -- A Warning From History

Weimar Germany, Mussolini, And The Spanish Civil War In The News

Nazi Propaganda Workshop

Nazi Propaganda  --  Research in the 1933-1945 Section of the German Propaganda Archive Select  one interesting item for analysis.  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 This 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.

Reading Assignment

Browse in Weimar Germany In The News Discussion Topic.

Listening And Viewing

  Nazis -- A Warning From History, BBC, 1997  -- Watch at least one episode from this excellent six-part series.

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:

Optional Extras

Browse in Mussolini In The News Discussion Topic.

Browse in Spanish Civil War And Historical Memory Discussion Topic.

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

"Fascism," Slate, 2017:  A series of articles that accompanies the Slate Academy feature on the history of fascism.

Week 9  (March 15-21)

Orientation For Week 9

Discussion Forum Contributions

Pandemic Playhouse:  War Of The Century

Pandemic Playhouse:  Auschwitz -- Nazis And The Final Solution

Listening And Viewing

Watch at least 2 hours from one of the following major BBC World War II documentary series:

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

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

  Auschwitz -- Nazis And The Final Solution, BBC, 2005:

Episode 1: "Surprising Beginnings"

Episode 2: "Orders And Initiatives"

Episode 3: "Factories Of Death"

Episode 4"Corruption"

Episode 5:  "Frenzied Killing"

Episode 6"Liberation And Revenge"

Optional Extras

Browse extensively in Stalin And Historical Memory Discussion Topic.

Looking Ahead

Week 10  (March 22-28)

Orientation For Week 10

Discussion Forum Contributions

Inglorious Empire

Pandemic Playhouse:  The East India Company

Reading Assignment

Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire: What The British Did To India.  Harmandsworth, UK: Penguin, 2017.

Optional Extras

"East India Company," Episode 1, Birth Of Empire, BBC, 2014.  [59 mins.]

"East India Company," Episode 2, Birth Of Empire, BBC, 2014.  [59 mins.]

"Passage To India," Episode 2, Queen Victoria's Empire, PBS, 2001.  [54 mins.]

***Sunday, March 28:  Journal Due (The expectation is that the Journal should contain syllabus materials up through Week 9 of the semester.  It is fine to include material from the later weeks if you choose to do so)


Week 11  (March 29 - April 4)

Orientation For Week 11

Discussion Forum Contributions

Pandemic Playhouse:  The Lost World Of Communism

Listening And Viewing

"1989: People Power," People's Century, BBC.  [53 mins.]

***Watch at least one 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]

Week 12  (April 5-11)

Orientation For Week 12

Discussion Forum Contributions

Pandemic Playhouse:  The Two Winstons

Pandemic Playhouse:  Rise And Fall Of The Russian Oligarchs

Reading Assignment

Fintan O'Toole, "The Paranoid Fantasy Behind Brexit," Guardian, November 16, 2018.

Listening And Viewing

"The Two Winstons," The History Of Britain, BBC,

Optional Extras

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

*** Thursday, April 8, Inglorious Empire Mini-Essay Due


Letter Of Introduction


What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution ?


Unwomanly Face Of War Mini-Essay




Inglorious Empire Mini-Essay


Pandemic Playhouse Discussion Forum Contributions


Other Discussion Forum Contributions



a)  Letter Of Introduction (1%)

Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester.  This should be at least 100 words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might best serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole.  You need not use the following questions as cues but they may be helpful.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far way?  What do you miss and what do you think would most surprise me if I were to visit your hometown?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections as you begin this particular course?  Are there topics associated with the course that you know will be of potential interest?  Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?  This is an assignment I ask of students in each of my classes.  If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, but perhaps mention something about each of the courses.  Those of you who are also enrolled in War and Memory this semester should address the Reflections questions from the HIS 220 Letter of Introduction instructions.  If you have taken a class with me before, please update what you sent me before and send me a new letter of introduction.  Submit your Letter of Introduction to me through the Blackboard Learn site ( https://learn.nic.bc.ca ).

b)  What Was Revolutionary About The French Revolution Reading Response (5%)

The first assignment will be a response to Robert Darnton's 1989 attempt to place the French Revolution without a broad historical and cultural context.

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

This 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.

d)  The Journal (38%)

The student Journal will be the most substantial assignment in this course.  It will represent your on-going engagement with the core class curriculum.  The focus of the Journal should be on analysis, interpretation, and commentary.  It should consist of a series of short writings of varying lengths about the course material.  I refer to these short writings as entries.  The purpose of the journal is to provide you with the opportunity for frequent thoughtful and analytical commentary upon course-related material.

I have provided you with two different options for the Journal: (1) The Regular Journal; or (2) The Note-Taking/Journal Combo.  These are described in detail on the Assignment Page of my web-site.  You should familiarize yourself with these two models and make a clear choice between the options at the beginning of the course.

This assignment is designed to be coordinated with the on-line Blackboard Discussion Forums.  Your Journal entries will overlap with many of the Discussion Forum topics.  It is fully appropriate to share commentary from your Journal with classmates in the relevant Pandemic Playhouse or Discussion Topic Forums.

It is expected that you work regularly on the Journal throughout the semester, writing in it on a weekly basis.  You will only need to hand in the Journal to me twice, however.  You will submit your Journal-in-Progress to me through the Blackboard site just before Reading Break.  I want to check to ensure that you are making good progress on the assignment and that we share a mutual understanding as to the nature of the assignment.  This check-in is ungraded but mandatory.  Failure to submit your Journal-in-Progress at this time may lead to a lowering of your Journal grade later in the semester.  You will then submit your entire semester-long Journal to me through the Blackboard site much later in the course for an overall grade and evaluation.

e)  Inglorious Empire  Reading Response (14%)

This assignment will be your written analysis (approximately 3 double-spaced pages) of Shashi Tharoor's Inglorious Empire: What The British Did To India.

f)  Pandemic Playhouse Discussion Forum Contributions (15%)

The Discussion Forums are meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to engage you with your classmates.  You should try to offer commentary upon a weekly basis.  Evaluation will be based not just upon the number of contributions but rather more on the level of their thoughtfulness, with added appreciation for genuine engagement with fellow students.  Although there will be very considerable flexibility in regards to your contribution schedule, and while I will leave up discussion forums throughout the semester, those students who do not regularly and recurrently contribute to the forums will see this reflected in their grades and evaluation.

g)  Other Discussion Forum Contributions (12%)

The Discussion Forums will be divided into your reflections upon the course documentaries (Pandemic Playhouse) and your discussions upon other course materials.  This is in part to emphasize the importance that I attach to the HIS 216 viewing responsibilities.  There are several feature videos that rest near the heart of the curriculum.  The Discussion Forum Contributions are a very important component of the semester and will combine for 27% of the overall course grade.

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)

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

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)



web stats