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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jordanna Bailkin
HSTEU 490
Seattle Campus

Topics in European History

Examines special topics in European history.

Class description

POSTWAR: EUROPEAN HISTORY AND FILM AFTER 1945

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 and the Holocaust, 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 success and failure of these efforts. We will address the themes of poverty and affluence, postwar justice, Americanization the 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 ten films that illustrate how Europe tried to cope with (or forget) the wartime past and its impact on the present, and what arguments Europeans made about how to 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.

Some of our texts will include Primo Levi's Reawakening, Gandhi's political writings, and Slavenka Drakulic's Life After Communism. Films will include Germany Year Zero, Battle of Algiers, Dirty Pretty Things, No Man's Land, and Inglourious Basterds.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture, film screenings, and group discussion

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites, although at least one course in modern European history would be helpful

Class assignments and grading

midterm, one paper (10-12 pages), final exam

Grades are based on evaluations of written work described above.


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: 01/24/2011