University of Notre Dame

Europe in the Twentieth Century – Approaching History Through Novels, Memoirs, and Film

Course Number: HIST 13184-1
Instructor: Thomas Kselman

In this course we will study selected topics in the history of Europe in the twentieth century, drawing on novels, memoirs, and film. Through these materials we will move beyond a straightforward narrative of political and military events, and approach the past as it was experienced by individuals who engaged with questions that continue to trouble the contemporary world. Many of the readings will revolve around connections between the United States and Europe (for example, the novel and film Brooklyn, the graphic memoir Maus), a theme that will also be developed by looking at current American issues in light of recent European history. By approaching Europe in this way we will enrich our understanding of the present through critical comparisons with the past.

This course is designed to develop skills that will be useful throughout your college career, and beyond. Students will make oral reports, participate in discussions, and write a series of essays on the topics of the course. In both oral reports and written assignments we will work on presenting material clearly, accurately, and concisely. We will also work on developing insight and judgment. Critical thinking is a common phrase used to describe a general skill that all college courses should encourage. We will pursue this goal, keeping in mind that criticism can be positive as well as negative, and in many cases incorporates both of these elements.

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November 09 Majors Night