This course is a survey of the history of modern Europe. Its topic is ¿the West,¿ a term that often carries connotations of progress, reason, and social opportunity. The course seeks to complicate such an idealized view of Western Civilization, which oversimplifies the tumultuous conflicts brought about by modern developments and ignores their social, cultural and even demographic costs. In pursuing this agenda, students focus on three interconnected strands of historical change that are usually taken as being quintessentially ¿Western¿: the rise of the modern state, technological and economic development, and the increasing hold of secularization and reason. All of these broad trends brought in their wake both unprecedented opportunities and problems. In examining modern states students discuss the expanding controls of distant powers over people. Class discussions of economy and society emphasize the emergence of new kinds of social divisions along distinctions of class, gender, nationality, and race. Students explore how the modern rational worldview has met with strong counter-currents, some of which have harnessed the potential of the human mind for evil ends.
Prerequisites: Students cannot receive credit for both HIST 102 and HIST 103.