European Civilization, 1648-1945 - Audio
By John Merriman
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(HIST 202) This course offers a broad survey of modern European history, from the end of the Thirty Years' War to the aftermath of World War II. Along with the consideration of major events and figures such as the French Revolution and Napoleon, attention will be paid to the experience of ordinary people in times of upheaval and transition. The period will thus be viewed neither in terms of historical inevitability nor as a procession of great men, but rather through the lens of the complex interrelations between demographic change, political revolution, and cultural development. Textbook accounts will be accompanied by the study of exemplary works of art, literature, and cinema. This course was recorded in Fall 2008.
||01 - Introduction||The course will concern European history from 1648 to 1945. The assigned readings include both standard historical texts and works of fiction, as well as films. Although the period in question encompasses many monumental events and "great...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||02 - Absolutism and the State||The rise of absolutism in Europe must be understood in the context of insecurity attending the religious wars of the first half of the seventeenth century, and the Thirty Years' War in particular. Faced with the unprecedented brutality and...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||03 - Dutch and British Exceptionalism||Several reasons can be found to explain why Great Britain and the Netherlands did not follow the other major European powers of the seventeenth century in adopting absolutist rule. Chief among these were the presence of a relatively...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||04 - Peter the Great||Peter the Great's historical significance stems not only from his military ambitions and the great expansion of the Russian Empire under his supervision, but also from his efforts to introduce secular, Western customs and ideas into Russian...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||05 - The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere||While the major philosophical projects of the Enlightenment are associated with the names of individual thinkers such as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire, the cultural transformation in France in the years leading up to the Revolution...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||06 - Maximilien Robespierre and the French Revolution||Robespierre's ascetic personal life and severe philosophy of political engagement are attributed by some to his difficult childhood. As a revolutionary, one of his most significant insights was that the Revolution was threatened not only by France's...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||07 - Napoleon||One way of understanding Napoleon's life is through attention to his Corsican origins. Although Napoleon himself would later disavow his earlier identification with the island in favor of French identity, many of his actions and attitudes...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||08 - Industrial Revolutions||The Industrial Revolution was for a long time treated as a decisive break in which some countries, specifically England, innovated and progressed rapidly while others were left behind. This type of analysis leads many historians to overlook...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||09 - Middle Classes||The nineteenth century in Europe is, in many ways, synonymous with the rise of the bourgeoisie. It is misleading, however, to consider this newly dominant middle class as a homogenous group; rather, the century may be more accurately...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||10 - Popular Protest||Collective violence, in the form of popular protest, was one of the principal ways in which people resisted the expansion of capitalism and the state throughout the nineteenth century. The nature of this protest can be charted through...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||11 - Why no Revolution in 1848 in Britain||Revolutions occur when a critical mass of people come together to make specific demands upon their government. They invariably involve an increase in popular involvement in the political process. One of the central questions concerning...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||12 - Nineteenth-Century Cities||The nineteenth century witnessed an unprecedented degree of urbanization, an increase in urban population growth relative to population growth generally. One of the chief consequences of this growth was class segregation, as the bourgeoisie...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||13 - Nationalism||In light of the many ethnic and national conflicts of the twentieth century, the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 appears less surprising than the fact that it remained intact for so long. National identity is not an essential...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||14 - Radicals||Socialism in the nineteenth century can be divided into two different strains of thought: reformist and revolutionary. While reformist socialists believed in changing the State through legal activity, such as voting, revolutionary socialists viewed...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||15 - Imperialists and Boy Scouts||The boom in European colonial expansion in the second half of the nineteenth century, the so-called New Imperialism, can be seen to follow from three principle factors, in ascending order of importance: religious proselytizing, profit...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||16 - The Coming of the Great War||If the early years of the twentieth century were marked by a general consensus that a major war was impending, no similar consensus existed concerning the likely form that war would take. Not only the carnage of World War I, but also the...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||17 - War in the Trenches||With the failure of Germany's offensive strategy, WWI became a war of defense, in which trenches played a major role. The use of trenches and barbed wire, coupled with the deployment of new, more deadly forms of artillery, created extremely...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||18 - Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning||As a result of World War I, Europe had a different understanding of war in the twentieth century than the United States. One of the most important ways in which the First World War was experienced on the continent and in Britain was through...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||19 - The Romanovs and the Russian Revolution||The period between the Russian Revolution of February 1917, which resulted in the overthrow of the autocracy and the establishment of a provisional government, and the Bolshevik Revolution in October of that same year, offers an instructive...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||20 - Successor States of Eastern Europe||Contrary to the "Great Illusion" that the end of World War I heralded a new era of peace, the interwar period can be considered to form part of a Thirty Years' War, spanning the period from 1914 to 1945. In the wake of the Treaty of Versailles...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||21 - Stalinism||One of the central questions in assessing Stalinism is whether or not the abuses of the latter were already present in the first years of the Russian Revolution. The archival evidence suggests that this is partly the case, and that even in its early...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||22 - Fascists||While Nazi Germany's crimes were unprecedented, Adolf Hitler himself was in many respects a typical figure. An idle youth, of seemingly mediocre talents, his political career and passionate hatreds were formed by the experience of World War I.||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||23 - Collaboration and Resistance in World War II||One of the principal myths concerning collaboration during World War II in France, as in other countries, is that the domestic collaborators did so despite themselves, or to prevent even greater atrocities. In fact, many French, Belgians...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||24 - The Collapse of Communism and Global Challenges||The disintegration of the Soviet Union resulted from a number of different factors. Three important ones are nationalism among Soviet satellite states, democratic opposition movements, and economic crisis. Along with these elements...||10/5/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
What Makes iTunes U brilliant.
Mr. Merriman opens doors, windows and an entire universe of thought. I found him engaging, brilliant, rambling, evocative and interestingly emotional (not boring). He enabled me to conceptualize a society of thought no other professor has done. A real treasure and MUST HAVE to anyone remotely interested in how we ended up here. Thank you John!
Other reviewers are correct that Merriman is brilliant. I only wish that his manner of speaking were more fluent. Numerous word whiskers (uh) make these lectures almost impossible to enjoy once you pick up on them. Like the adage of having a face for radio, this speaker has a voice suited for print.
Merriman's a pretty good speaker, apart from a few minor tics. The class isn't bad by any means, but after listening I sort of have the same sensation I'd get from watching a survey show on The History Channel. There isn't a sense of a connected narrative in Merriman's lectures - the course has more of the feel of 24 bullet point topics from three hundred years of European history arranged in rough chronological order. And like a TV show, each episode ends, and it's on to the next grouping of anecdotes.
Good for a bullet point view but sort of just skimming the surface. Perhaps the depth would be apparent if you were reading the coursework alongside the lectures.