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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

John E Toews
HSTEU 407
Seattle Campus

European Intellectual History: Twentieth Century

Selected topics in the intellectual history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The aftermath of Darwinism, the problems of methodology in modern social science, historicism and moral relativism, irrationalism in philosophy and social theory, revisionism in secular and orthodox religions.

Class description

The development of European thought and culture from the 1890s to the 1990s as expressed in the fine arts, literature, philosophy and social theory. The emphasis in the discussions and lectures will be on developments in central and western European and will focus on the fate of Modernism from its inception in the period before World War I, through its tranformations during the traumatic events of the period 1914-1945 and the divisions of the Cold War, and finally its transmutation into postmodernism after 1968. Analysis of significant intellectual "couples" like Auguste Rodin/Camille Claudel, Simone de Beauvoir/Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger/Hannah Arendt will highlight the importance of gender perspectives in 20th Century European Intellectual History. Other individual figures studied in depth include Sigmund Freud, Max Weber, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, Claude Levi-Strauss, Michel Foucault and Juergen Habermas.

Student learning goals

Develop an understanding of the historical trajectory of Modernism in West European.

Grasp the problematic nature of gendered perspectives in European thought and literature

Learn to connect contemporaneous developments in the visual arts, music literature,philosophy, social theory and psychology.

Approach a critical historical understanding of many of the cultural assumptions that frame our understanding of the present

Research the origins and contexts of intellectual products through short weekly research assignments

Write an extended analytical/historical paper on the relations between texts and contexts

General method of instruction

mix of lecture and discussion

Recommended preparation

An introductory course on 20th century European history and culture would be very helpful.

Class assignments and grading

Short weekly reports on research assignments Midterm and Final quizzes on the material in the lectures Term Paper (about 10 pp. in length)

Final grade will consist of accumulated credits for weekly assignments (40%), quizzes (30%) and term paper (30%).


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 John E Toews
Date: 10/05/2007