Georgetown University

Gerorgetown University, Graduate Seminar, Spring 2011

Protest and Political Violence in Europe after 1945

HIST 734, Graduate Seminar, Spring 2011
BMW Center for German & European Studies / Department of History
Georgetown University
Room: New North 412
Office Hours: Tuesday 6:15-7:45, Room 520H


In recent years, academics have begun to explore the significance of Cold War protest movements and their subcultures with regard to political participation, the transformations of culture and value systems, as well as the development of civil society, both in Eastern and Western Europe. At the same time—and in conjunction with this—research on the role of political violence and the emergence of terrorism, particularly during the 1970s, has been booming.

Combining theoretical discussions with empirical reconstructions, this course investigates the historical trajectories and political, social, economic, cultural, and intellectual contexts of European social movements after 1945. Readings focus on both sides of the Iron Curtain, paying special attention to the local dimension of grassroots campaigns while tracing the influence of national and transnational factors. Transcending traditional narratives of political protest, the seminar examines the role of cultural practices and the avant-garde, action repertoires, the media, visual representations, the politics of memory, and the impact of dissent on political decision-makers, the international system, and society at large.

Topics include, but are not limited to, the 1953 workers’ uprising in East Germany, the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, the rise of the New Left, anti-Vietnam War activism and “1968,” the Prague Spring, the terrorist movements of the 1970s (e.g., the Rote Armee Fraktion, Red Brigades, Action Directe), the nuclear disarmament campaigns of the 1950s and 1980s, Solidarity in Poland, the women’s and environmental movements, as well as the fall of communism triggered in 1989.


Books Recommended for Purchase:

  • Timothy Garton Ash, The Polish Revolution: Solidarity (New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2002)
  • Jim House and Neil MacMaster, Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror, and Memory. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (New York: Penguin Press, 2005)
  • Padraic Kenney, A Carnival of Revolution–Central Europe 1989 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002)
  • Martin Klimke and Joachim Scharloth, eds., 1968 in Europe: A History of Protest and Activism, 1956-1977 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
  • Uta Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000)
  • Christopher Rootes, ed., Environmental Protest in Western Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Mary Elise Sarotte, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009)
  • All other readings, including the primary sources selected for each session, will be made available on Blackboard.