I spend a lot of my time teaching modern European history. Click on the links below to see some of my syllabi.
Historical Research and Writing
This course provides an introduction to the methods of historical research along with the opportunity to practice good academic writing. Instead of focusing on a particular historical period or region of the world, we will examine the process by which history is written.
This course approaches the history of twentieth century Europe from three angles – politics, ideas, and sexuality. The goal is to gain a well-rounded understanding of the changes that Europe went through in the twentieth century. We will discuss Europe as a whole, paying just as much attention to the smaller states in Eastern Europe as we do to the major Western powers. The first section of the course focuses on major political changes that impacted multiple states; observing how radically the violence and scale of these events altered the worldview and standard of living of millions of people. The second section surveys important writers and thinkers who reflected on European culture, covering intellectual movements such as modernism, existentialism, structuralism, and post-structuralism. Finally, we examine changing attitudes towards sexuality over the course of the century. We will pay attention to the ways in which sexuality influences – and is shaped by – politics, gender, economics, and ideology, and how these relationships change over time.
Western Civilization since 1500
This course is an introduction to the development of Western culture, ideas, religion, and political organization from the Reformation to the 20th century. The course deconstructs the notion of Western civilization and shows how understandings of “the West” have changed over time. It covers the emergence of a modern Western worldview, European imperialism and the repositioning of Europe within the Western imagination, the collapse of absolutist regimes, the emancipation of women, the spread of Western democracy, extremist political movements of both the left and the right, and ends with the collapse of communism in 1989.
Introduction to the History of East-Central Europe
This course introduces students to the major themes and events of the History of East-Central Europe from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Through close readings of primary sources students will draw their own conclusions on a number of major issues that divide specialists on the region. We will explore in particular the nature of Enlightened absolutism, the ideologies behind the 1848 revolutions, the rise of nationalism, the collapse of interwar democracies, and the modalities of power under state socialism.
Revolutionary Russia, 1825-1938
This course explores the impetus and depth of revolutionary change through a survey of Russian history from the Decembrist Revolt of 1825 through to the Stalinist purges of the late 1930s. We discuss the various approaches to social change suggested by the radical intelligentsia during the nineteenth century and then follow the Bolsheviks through the revolutions of 1917 to the resulting civil war. The course examines the cultural and social changes taking place in the everyday lives of Russian citizens during the 1920s and 1930s before returning to politics with the onset of the Second World War. Students will be expected to draw their own conclusions about what makes a revolution, how widespread support for the Soviet regime was, and what role violence plays in effecting social and political change.
European Social Movements, 1760-2012
The extensive sociological literature on social movements has traditionally focused on movements in the United States and Western Europe since the 1960s, but there is an increasing awareness amongst scholars that comparable examples of collective action have existed since at least the eighteenth century. This course uses concrete case studies of collective action from early modern England to the Occupy movement to investigate questions about how movements mobilize activists, how they communicate with their publics, the importance of mass media, what unites a movement, and what makes a movement successful. In the process, we will cover the rise of communism and fascism, feminist organizing, terrorism, religious groups, and youth subculture over the past two hundred years.
Together we will read about the history and geography of schooling in modern Europe and the U.S., learn about different pedagogical approaches and the ways in which pedagogies can be used to challenge or reinforce existing social inequalities. Students will analyze texts and discuss the merits of different pedagogical approaches to dealing with issues related to class, gender, sexuality, and nationality in the classroom. We will also discuss contemporary educational debates about educational funding, grade inflation, and national rankings. (Co-taught with Mary Curran, a Cultural Geographer).
Ethnic Groups and Conflict in Modern Eastern Europe
This course examines the history of ethnic group formation and inter-ethnic conflict in modern Eastern Europe through questions such as (1) why do ethnic groups form? (2) what causes the salience of ethnicity to increase or decrease? and (3) what courses ethnic conflict? The course aims to refine students’ skills as historians by focusing on writing, interpretation, historical reasoning, discussion, and research. Students will grapple with theoretical models regarding ethnic groups and violence, will analyze primary sources, and will be expected to produce a polished piece of writing that applies both theoretical models and empirical research to the understanding of ethnic conflict in twentieth century European history.
Lived Religion in Russia and Eastern Europe
Through a detailed examination of primary sources, this course explores the religious beliefs and practices of peasants, workers, monks, and rabbis from the Balkans to the Ural Mountains over the past two hundred years. In the process we will grapple with a range of theoretical questions of interest to scholars of religion, including how broad structural changes to societies in the region altered lived religion, how orthodoxy was reinforced and challenged, what role religion played in forging group identities, and how people related to the divine through a range of different religious traditions.