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HSTEU 290 C: Topics In European History

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
GLD 117
Joint Sections: 
Professor James Felak
James Felak

Syllabus Description:






Professor James Felak


Office Hours—Wednesday, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

                          Or by appointment



Phone:  206-543-4797

Office: Smith Hall, Room 112-B




Because the Catholic Church intersects with practically every major event and development in contemporary European history, from the rise of Fascism, through the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Cold War, right up to the current challenges of European identity, secularization, and Islamic immigration, it provides an exceptionally rich field for examining the major issues and developments in Europe over the past century.  This course will examine the Catholic Church in the context of European history since the First World War.  Along with politics and diplomacy, some attention will be paid to theological questions, and to Catholic culture in Europe, above all literature and film.


COURSE SCHEDULE (subject to modification):


Tuesday, January 5—introduction; lecture on Benedict XV, the First World War, and the Post-War Peace settlements


Thursday, January 7—lecture on Pius XI, interwar politics, and international relations


Tuesday, January 12—lecture on the Catholic Church and Nazi Germany; DISCUSSION—Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge; Martin Rhonheimer, “The Holocaust: What Was Not Said”


Thursday, January 14—lecture on the Catholic Church and the Spanish Civil War


Tuesday, January 19—lecture on the Catholic intellectual and cultural renaissances in France and England


Thursday, January 21—lecture on Pius XII, the Second World War, and the Holocaust; DISCUSSION—Michael Phayer, “The Holocaust and the Priorities of Pope Pius XII” and José M. Sánchez, “Conclusion” from Pius XII and the Holocaust


Tuesday, January 26FILM—Völker Schlondorf, The Ninth Day; FIRST PAPER IS DUE (on Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest)


Thursday, January 28DISCUSSION—Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest; Schlondorf, The Ninth Day; lecture on the Catholic Church and the early Cold War (to Pius XII’s death in 1958)


Tuesday, February 2—FIRST EXAMINATION


Thursday, February 4—lectures on John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council


Tuesday, February 9—lecture on the Catholic Church under Paul VI; DISCUSSION—Paul VI, Humanae Vitae and Bernard Häring, “The Encyclical Crisis”


Thursday, February 11—lecture on John Paul II, Poland, and Communism


Tuesday, February 16—lecture on the Catholic Church under John Paul II since 1989


Thursday, February 18—lecture on Benedict XVI


Tuesday, February 23FILM—Xavier Beauvois, Of Gods and Men; SECOND PAPER IS DUE (on David Lodge, Souls and Bodies)


Thursday, February 25DISCUSSION—Beauvois, Of Gods and Men; Lodge, Souls and Bodies; start lecture on the Catholic Church and Islam in Europe


Tuesday, March 1—finish lecture on the Catholic Church and Islam in Europe; DISCUSSION—Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate; John Paul II, “Muhammad?” from Crossing the Threshold of Hope; Benedict XVI, “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections”; and “Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI”


Thursday, March 3—lecture on Catholicism in Europe since Vatican II; DISCUSSION—Joseph Ratzinger, “The Spiritual Roots of Europe: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”


Tuesday, March 8—Pope Francis and Conclusion; DISCUSSION—Pope Francis, “Address to the European Parliament” and “Address to the Council of Europe”; course evaluations






1-first examination (15%)

*to be held in class on Tuesday, February 2


2-second examination (25%)

*to be held in class on Thursday, March 10


3-first short paper (15%)

*on Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

*4 to 5 pages in length

*due at start of class on Tuesday, January 26

*details on the paper to come on a separate handout


4-second short paper (15%)

*on David Lodge, Souls and Bodies

*4 to 5 pages in length

*due at start of class on Tuesday, February 23

*details on the paper to come on a separate handout


5-participation in class discussions (30%)

*includes attendance, pop quizzes on readings, and short reflections on readings and films


Specifications for Written Assignments:


All papers must be double-spaced, in a font of 12, in Times New Roman, with margins of 1.25” on the sides and 1.0 on the top and bottom, and no shorter or longer than specified.   Up to .5 will be taken off for failure to meet specifications.


One of the skills this course hopes to teach is that of working effectively to meet deadlines.  Therefore, penalties for late papers are as follows: a .5 deduction if not turned in by the time stipulated; a .5 deduction for each additional day the paper is not turned in by the start of class.


Failure to pass any one of the course requirements can result in a failing grade for the course.




*Michael Burleigh, Sacred Causes (portions assigned to come on separate handouts)


*Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest


*David Lodge, Souls and Bodies


*Readings from course packet—to be picked up at Rams Copy Center at 4144 University Way N.E.





Catalog Description: 
Examines special topics in European history.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:11pm