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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Dreams and nightmares: the culture and politics of postwar Europe, 1945-1975 (HIST10385)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course is intended as an in-depth analysis of the 'postwar moment' in Europe, from the dying embers of the Second World War to the global economic transformation of the 1970s. The aim will be to examine the ways in which Europeans came to terms with the traumas of war and sought to rebuild a shattered continent. Students will explore the period through close-grained historical reading in seminars and a series of source workshops, in which they will discuss literary, film, artistic and documentary sources.
Course description The main focus will be on four countries - France, Germany, Italy and Czechoslovakia - and the range of primary sources will be deliberately eclectic. In addition to oral sources and other archival documents, students can expect to read texts by writers such as Italo Calvino, Frantz Fanon, Simone de Beauvoir, Milan Kundera, Raymond Aron, Primo Levi and Albert Camus, and watch films by directors such as François Truffaut and Federico Fellini. The secondary reading will be equally varied and students will be encouraged to work with historical, sociological, literary and anthropological writings. These should allow students to think imaginatively about the origins and meaning of social change in twentieth-century Europe.

Semester 1

Week 1: 'Introduction: the geographies of Europe after the Second World War'

Week 2: 'Lingering doubts: ending the Second World War'
Week 3: Source workshop: Albert Camus, Heinrich Böll

Week 4: 'Never again? The traumas of the war'
Week 5: Source workshop: Paul Steinberg, Primo Levi.

Week 6: 'Relaunching democracy in the West'
Week 7: Source workshop: Wolfgang Koeppen, Alain Resnais

Week 8: 'Communism and its critics'
Week 9: Source workshop: Milan Kundera, Czeslaw Milosz,

Week 10: 'Social transformations in the 1950s and 60s'
Week 11: Source workshop: Laurence Wylie, Czech/French New Wave.

Semester 2

Week 1: 'Decolonisation and the European mind'
Week 2: Source workshop: Frantz Fanon, Gillo Pontecorvo

Week 3: 'The 68 years'
Week 4: Source workshop: Herbert Marcuse, Guy Debord

Week 5: 'Women in postwar Europe'
Week 6: Source workshop: Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan

Week 7: 'Secularisation and religion in postwar Europe'
Week 8: Source workshop: Samuel Beckett, Federico Fellini

Week 9: 'The 1970s: oil, unemployment and a new kind of politics'
Week 10: Source workshop: Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, Michel Foucault

Week 11: 'Conclusion: was 1975 a turning point?'
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503780).
Additional Costs Students can access all the source material in the library. However, they may wish to purchase the key primary texts, available cheaply online.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, through both essays and their assessed presentation, a coherent grasp of key political, economic, social, cultural developments in postwar Europe from 1945 to 1975
  2. demonstrate, through both essays and their assessed presentation, a better understanding of major themes in postwar European cultural and intellectual life
  3. demonstrate, through both essays and their assessed presentation, a familiarity with the key historiographical innovations in the study of postwar Europe; this will include knowledge and engagement with secondary literature from sociology, literature, political science and anthropology
  4. demonstrate, through both essays and their assessed presentation, a capacity to engage with written and audiovisual primary sources (where appropriate in foreign languages)
  5. demonstrate, through both essays and their assessed presentation, a capacity to critically analyse the work of others; a capacity to engage critically with the relevant textual and non-textual primary and secondary sources; an ability to gather and organise relevant material for presenting their findings; and an ability to work under established deadlines
Reading List
These introductory texts can be used to get a sense of the major course themes.

Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes, 1914-1991 (1994)
Mark Mazower, Dark Continent, Europe's Twentieth Century (1998)
Tony Judt, Postwar. A History of Europe since 1945 (2005)
David Reynolds, From World War to Cold War (2006)
Richard Vinen, A History in Fragments:. Europe in the Twentieth Century (2000)
Alexis Korner 'Culture' in M. Fulbrook (ed.), Europe since 1945 (2001)
Tim Buchanan, Europe's Troubled Peace (1945-2000) (2005)
Geoff Eley, Forging Democracy. The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000 (2002)
Dominik Geppert (ed.), The Postwar Challenge. Cultural, Social, and Political Change in
Western Europe, 1945-58 (2003)
David Crowley and Jane Pavitt (eds.), Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970 (2008)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Seminar: 1 x 2-hour session every other week, plus 1 introductory and 1 concluding seminar (24 hours)

Source workshop: 1 x 2-hour session every other week (20 hours)
KeywordsDreams & nightmares
Course organiserDr Alessandra Bitumi
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
Course secretaryMiss Alexandra Adam
Tel: (0131 6)50 3767
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