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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jordanna Bailkin
HSTEU 276
Seattle Campus

Postwar: European History and Film after 1945

Explores efforts to reconstruct Europe and European identity after 1945. Assesses the successes and failures of these efforts. Addresses themes of poverty and affluence, postwar justice, Americanization, expansion and collapse of communism, decolonization, migration, and ongoing ethnic tensions that threatened new forms of warfare. Explores the history uses of film.

Class description

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.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The lectures provide an introduction to the political, intellectual, social, and cultural context for the weekly readings.

We will have a regular film component for this course (films to be shown during the lecture period), and students will have the opportunity to discuss and write about these films as part of their coursework.

This is a "W" course, which fulfills the university's writing requirement.

Recommended preparation

None, though any European or 20th-century history is helpful.

Class assignments and grading

One paper; two exams (midterm and final)

Writing assignments plus participation in discussion sections


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jordanna Bailkin
Date: 05/02/2013