Is the project of European integration starting to unravel? Is Germany again striving for a position of leadership in Europe? Does Europe include Russia or Turkey? How likely is Europe nowadays to return to the destabilizing ethnic hatreds of the 1930s and the Second World War? Are authoritarian capitalist regimes (vide Russia and China) poised for a comeback after the defeat of such regimes in the Second World War? Is Spain different from Europe? Will the current policy of “austericide” in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece lead to civil wars, revolutions, and dictatorships? What does “European socialism” really mean and why is it so frightening to some Americans? Why are Europeans less willing to use military force than Americans? Will the growing divide in transatlantic relations lead to Europe going its own way in the world? These are questions debated here and now which this course will illuminate from a historical perspective.
Many common traits and similar developments have historically differentiated the European nations from surrounding ones and have given them a distinct character. There is more than sufficient reason to put the histories of the European nations into a single narrative, whilst retaining an eye on Europe´s immense internal diversity and great national variations. Against the background of the most significant political, socio-economic and cultural trends in European history from the French Revolution to the present day, the course will give prominence to describing and explaining the forces, tensions, and dilemmas that have shaped contemporary Europe. Europe is the home of freedom, democracy, and national self-determination, but at the same time also the birthplace of imperialism, racism, fascism, and communism. In addition, the course will examine how the idea of ´Europe´ has shifted over the last two centuries, as well as questions of collective memory and their role in the formation of a distinctive European identity.