How did Europeans attempt to come to terms with the aftermath and legacy of the Second World War? As they sought to rebuild their cities, laws, empires, economies, and social relations in the wake of the war, the place of Europe in the world seemed ever more fragile. In this course, we will explore efforts to reconstruct Europe and European identity after 1945, as well as assessing the successes and failures of these efforts. We will address the themes of poverty and affluence, postwar justice, Americanization, the expansion and collapse of communism, decolonization, migration, and ongoing ethnic tensions that threatened new forms of warfare.
Throughout this tumultuous period, film offered a powerful way for Europeans to rethink their identity. We will focus on films that illustrate how Europe tried to memorialize (and forget) the wartime past, and what arguments Europeans made about how they might build a new future. The course thus provides students with an opportunity to explore the historical uses of film, and to sharpen their skills of visual analysis, along with an overview of key themes in post-1945 European history. Key readings include Primo Levi, The Reawakening; Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism; and Slavenka Drakulic, Cafe Europa. Key films include Germany Year Zero, Battle of Algiers, Some Mother's Son, Goodbye Lenin, Dirty Pretty Things, No Man's Land, and Inglourious Basterds.
Assignments include a midterm, final exam, and one 7-8 page paper.