HSTEU 490 B: Topics in European History

Spring 2022
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm / DEN 113
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

FRENCH 378 : The Making of Contemporary France

Collage of three images showing different versions of Marianne, symbol of the French nation: white Mariannes against gay marriage, white Mariannes for gay marriage, and a black Marianne

The full syllabus is available as a pdf here and as a word file here

This course examines the development of contemporary France, paying special attention to moments and texts that disrupt the narratives of a unified cultural space that the French (or a certain subset of the French) like to tell. Throughout the course, which spans from the French Revolution to the present day, we will examine how the idea of France is problematized internally by a number of tensions: its equally important revolutionary and reactionary political traditions; its credo of a singular culture (Republicanism) in the face of ascendant multiculturalism; its universalizing impulse and its commitment to sexual difference; its anti-immigrant reflexes and its global cultural and economic ambitions. We will do so by examining a variety of types of texts and objects, with a focus on the historical, literary, and cinematic. Taught in English and in person.

Required Texts

  • Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot (Oxford’s World Classics)
  • Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night (New Directions Books)

[All other readings will be accessible via Canvas]

Course Requirements

  • Canvas Posts: Each week, by Friday at 5pm, you will post one or two paragraphs (around 150 words) explaining what you found most interesting in the week’s readings, lectures, and discussions, what you still have questions about, what connections you’re making, etc. This will help us take stock of what we’re learning, what is grabbing us, as well as what remains unresolved that we might want to carry over into the following week.
  • Presentation: At some point during the quarter (I’ll circulate a sign-up in the first week), you will give a short five- to seven-minute presentation of a historical event, topic, or biography related to course themes. I will provide a list of possible subjects, but you are also very welcome to choose your own topic, in conversation with me.
  • Midterm Exam: Open-book, take home midterm. The format will be a mix of short answer, identification, and short essay questions.
  • Final Project: The final will take the form of a research project based on a course theme, topic, or concept of your choice (in conversation with me). You can choose to work on something purely historical or you can situate a present-day issue in historical context or through the lens of our course themes/discussions.
    Projects can take the form of a traditional paper, a podcast, a short story, a zine, etc., but whatever format you choose, you should include at least two peer-reviewed sources and a bibliography page with citation information for all sources used.
    Traditional papers should be approximate 6-8 pages long (doubled-spaced, 12-pt font, Times New Roman or another font that is not huge 😊). Creative projects should be accompanied by a 1-2 page artist statement, explaining the thinking behind your project, how it relates to course themes, and what you hope readers, viewers, hearers take away from it.

Grading Breakdown

  1. Participation (class preparation, in-class work): 15%
  2. Canvas Posts: 20%
  3. Midterm: 20%
  4. Presentation: 20%
  5. Final Project: 25%


Catalog Description:
Examines special topics in European history.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
February 23, 2024 - 3:01 am