Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

honr 216 / ints 216 encountering contemporary europe: rome

Spring 2012

This course will offer a selective survey of the history and culture of Europe from the turn of the 20th century through the present.  We will engage with the history, literature, film and art of the period from the perspectives of multiple disciplines.  This inter-disciplinary method will help students understand the complex relationships between events and ideas from various fields and aid in ascertaining the influence of intellectual and cultural trends on society. Because the course is based in Rome, we will make use of the city as a primary source, incorporating a number of site visits into the class schedule. Students will also be encouraged to plan and consider their travel as a form of first-hand encounter with contemporary Europe and will have the option of building a semester project around their experiences.


Required Texts:

1. Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age. Mariner Books, 2000

2. Felix Gilbert and David Clay Large, The End of the European Era: 1890 to the Present. W. W. Norton & Company; Sixth Edition, 2008

3. George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia. Mariner Books, 1980 (complete by week 9)

4. Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz. Touchstone, 1996 (complete by Week 10)

5. Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Harper, 1999 (complete by week 12)

6. Additional readings provided via BlackBoard


Course Requirements:

Class preparation and Participation – 10 %:

You are responsible for each week's readings and should come to class with specific questions and comments in mind. Pairs of students will be asked at the beginning of the semester to volunteer to lead class discussion for each week, but our conversation will depend on the participation of all of the members of the class. I reserve the right to require written summaries of the readings should it become apparent that students are not keeping up with them. Lectures in this class do not duplicate the readings; instead they are meant to provide the general narrative of European cultural and intellectual history and set the context for the primary sources we will encounter throughout the semester.


Weekly comments – 20%:

By Tuesday of each week, you must compose and post to the discussion board a question or comment based on the primary readings for the week. These should be approximately 150-250 words and should express your thoughts and opinions on the readings. Questions for discussion are also welcome.


Take-home Midterm Exam – 25%:

You will compose a short (5-6 page, typed, double-spaced) essay to be turned in during week 6 of the semester. I will provide you with a choice of prompts during week 5. You are not required to consult outside materials for this essay, but may do so if you choose. Any sources consulted must, of course, be properly cited in your essay.


Semester Project – 45%

Part 1 (15%) Project proposal and working bibliography – In the first weeks of the semester, you should be thinking about what aspect of European history or culture you wish to explore and checking to see what information is available to you. During week 4 you will turn in a working proposal and bibliography. This should describe the subject you wish to explore, your approach to the subject, and the form your project will take. The bibliography must contain at least six sources with annotations beneath each explaining how it is relevant to the subject and how you will use it. Your bibliography may conform to any of the standard styles. (ie. Turabian, MLA, etc. – available in the library) but must be consistent throughout.

Part 2 (30%) The project itself – On December 7, you will turn in/present your final work. This might be a standard research paper (approx. 10-12 pages), a PowerPoint presentation, a photographic essay, an audiovisual project, etc. The ultimate form is up to you (though it must be approved by me – see above). We will dedicate our last class to your presentations of your work.

A note about attendance: Attendance policy in this class follows the official Rome Center rules: “In order for a student to be excused from class, he/she must present to the professor of each of his/her classes a written note of excuse.  The only authorized notes are those from a doctor, the director, the vice director, the assistant Director, or the Associate Dean of Students.”  Travel is NOT considered a valid excuse for missing classes or turning in late assignments.

PART I: La Belle Époque

Reading: Eksteins xiii-xvi, 1-94

(Recommended: Gilbert and Large, Chapters 1 and 2)


Week 1 (Jan 18): General overview and late 19th-century context

Reading: Bertrand Russell, “Philosophical Consequences of Relativity.”


Week 2 (Jan 25): Irrationalism

Reading: Excerpts from Nietzche, The Gay Science and Steven E. Aschheim, “Max Nordau, Friedrich Nietzsche and Degeneration.”


Week 3 (Feb 1): Class is cancelled today for the papal audience




PART II: WWI and the Crisis of Modernity

Eksteins, 95-240

(Recommended: Gilbert and Large, Chapters 3 and 4)


Week 4 (Feb 8) Futurism, Dada and the Great War

Reading: F.T. Marinetti, The Futurist Manifesto, and Dada Manifestos


Week 5 (Feb 15) WWI and its Aftermath

Reading: British War Poets

Visit to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier?


Week 6 (Feb 22) Weimar Culture

Reading: excerpts from Peter Gay, Weimar Culture (ON RESERVE in the IC)


 PART III:  The Rise of Authoritarian Regimes

Eksteins, 240-331

(Recommended: Gilbert and Large, Chapters 5-8)


Week 7 (March 1) The Great Depression and the Rise of Fascism

Reading: Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

Class on site at the Foro Italico – We will meet as usual and then go together.



Week 8 (March 15) Nazism

Reading: Brian Winston, “Triumph of the Will”

Film: Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph des Willens


An alumni-sponsored study trip to WWII sites in the area will take place this weekend (March 19-20).

You are strongly urged to participate.


Week 9 (March 22) The Spanish Civil War

Reading: George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia.


Week 10 (March 29) the Holocaust

Film: Night and Fog

Reading: Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz


PART IV:  Recovery and Reform

(Recommended: Gilbert and Large, Chapters 9-11, 15-17)


Week 11 (April 5) From “Hot” to Cold War

Reading: Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind. EXCERPTS


Week 12 (April 12) Cold War Culture: Behind the Iron Curtain

Reading: Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.


Week 13 (April 19) Migration and the changing face of Europe

Reading: Ian Buruma, “Letter from Amsterdam: Final Cut” http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/01/03/050103fa_fact1?currentPage=all


Week 14 (April 26) Presentations and Course Conclusions

Reading: TBA