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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jordanna Bailkin
HSTEU 274
Seattle Campus

European History and Film from the 1890's to the Present

Introduces the histories of world war, the rise and fall of fascism and communism, postwar migrations, the Cold War and decolonization, and the making of the European Community through film. Historical content unified by methodological focus on the social and political function of film.

Class description

HSTEU 274 explores the history of twentieth-century Europe through film. The twentieth century, as the historian Eric Hobsbawm has said, was an “age of extremes.” This course serves as an introduction to this turbulent age, exploring themes in European history from the 1890s to the 1990s. We will survey the histories of world war, the rise and fall of fascism and communism, postwar migrations, the Cold War and decolonization, and the making of the European Community. Through our discussions of particular moments in the recent European past, we will consider broader questions of citizenship and identity in modern political life.

Our discussions will be unified by our methodological focus on the social and political function of film, from Soviet Russia to Nazi Germany. This course is therefore intended to provide an opportunity for students to explore the diverse historical uses of film – and to sharpen their own skills of visual analysis – along with an overview of major themes in 20th-century Europe. Films will include Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion, Sergei Eisenstein's Ten Days that Shook the World, Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, Michael Verhoeven's The Nasty Girl, Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers, Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three, Richard Lester's Hard Day's Night, and Matthieu Kassovitz's Hate.

Readings will include Robert Graves' Goodbye to All That, Art Spiegelman's Maus II, Heda Kovaly's Under a Cruel Star, and Frantz Fanon's A Dying Colonialism.

This is a "W" course, which meets the university's standards for writing credit.

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. Students are expected to participate actively in the weekly discussions.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

Two papers (5-6 pages); midterm exam; final exam

Assignments listed above, plus participation grade for seminar discussions


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: 10/31/2012