Western Civilization II

Instructor: Dr. Martin Klimke

Rutgers History Department, Spring 2006
Department of History, Spring 2006


This course surveys the events and issues in Western civilization from 1700 to the present in the context of international developments. It broadly examines the basic political, economic, and cultural developments and key concepts that have shaped the path of Europe. European Absolutism, the birth of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and its legacies, the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of various ideologies (nationalism, liberalism, socialism, etc.), European imperialist expansion, the two World Wars, the rise of fascism, the Cold War divisions of the continent and their dissolution in and around 1989 will form the periodical demarcations of this class.

However, at the same time we will transcend these boundaries by examining various aspects of the European past, including concepts of individual liberties and citizenship, class structures, gender roles, generational, ethnic and national identities or transnational allegiances. Particular attention will also be paid to the shaping of contemporary Europe, the challenges it faces, as well as its future in a globalized, but unipolar world. Readings are composed of a variety of primary and secondary sources, and will allow multi-faceted insights into the long-term developments in Europe and of the idea of the West.

Course Requirements:
The requirements for this course are that you participate regularly in class and discussions, take a midterm and a comprehensive final exam. In addition, there will beseveral unannounced reading quizzes during the semester. The class will consist of an active lecture format, meaning that I plan to intersperse the lectures with discussions and debates of the reading and/or additional primary sources. It is therefore essential that you complete the assigned readings on time, also to pass the unannounced reading quizzes.

Required Reading:

  • Hunt, Lynn, et al., The Making of the West, vol. 2: Since 1500 (NY: Bedford St. Martin, 2005)
  • Lualdi, Katharine, ed., Sources of The Making of the West, vol. 2: Since 1500 (comes as free supplement)
  • Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front  (Ballantine Books; Reissue edition, 1987)
  • Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996)