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This subject provides an introduction to the political history of Europe’s turbulent twentieth century. It focuses on major moments of crisis that shaped the ‘age of extremes’, in the words of Eric Hobsbawm. Beginning with the First World War and ending with the global and domestic challenges that Europe faces today, the subject investigates how Europeans experienced and sought to manage wars, revolutions, and major economic shocks throughout the century. Taking the larger themes of crisis and integration as a basis, we will study key events and developments such as the two world wars, the great depression, the division of Europe during the Cold War, and the 1989 revolutions. We will also explore the project of European integration in terms of the aspirations to build a new kind of supranational entity and the challenges that the ideal of a unified Europe has faced over the past century. The subject thus addresses, from a historical perspective, the pressing current issue as to whether Europe is a continent plagued by crises that will ultimately cause its breakdown—or whether Europeans will be able to build a unified polity that meets the global challenges of the twenty-first century.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- demonstrate knowledge of key developments of twentieth-century European history;
- critically engage with historiographical debates, both in written form and in group discussions;
- develop original historical arguments based on primary and secondary sources;
- contribute to discussions on present-day Europe from a historical perspective;
- reflect on broader historical concepts such as ‘crisis’ and ‘integration’ and apply them to specific historical settings.
Students who successfully complete this subject should be able to
- work cooperatively in small groups and engage in full-class debate;
- apply methods of critical inquiry and argument leading to improved analytical skills;
- conduct independent research based on primary and secondary sources;
- work in an interdisciplinary environment.
Last updated: 6 December 2019