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COURSE NAME: "Nineteenth-Century Europe and the World "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Dario Biocca
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 3:00-4:15 PM

This course explores the history of Europe and its relations with the larger world from the French Revolution to the outbreak of World War I. In it, students investigate the cultural, diplomatic, economic, political, and social developments that shaped the lives of nineteenth-century Europeans. Significant attention will be given to the relationship between Europeans and peoples in other parts of the world, the development of new political ideologies and systems, and the ways in which everyday life and culture changed during this period.

Satisfies "Modern History" core course requirement for History majors.

The course begins with the study of charts and figures which outline the unprecedented changes which took place in Europe throughout the 19th Century. Particular attention is devoted to the uneven process of economic growth and industrial development which left some regions unaffected and/or detached from the network and the geography of industrialization and re-urbanization.

Readings will then focus on the conflict between the traditional views of nationalism and the spreading of universal values such as those exported by the French revolution and, later, by the Communist Manifesto. The continental balance of military power and the system of diplomatic alliances will also be examined in depth.

As European élites changed and a new “bourgeois” culture emerged, a different set of values became predominant in European society; it affected not only political institutions but also esthetics, morality and religious feelings. Readings will describe the rise of new social classes and define their ideology and cultures; they will also identify the sources of opposition and resistance to the “bourgeois” revolution. Readings will include documents on the transformations that took place in the family and the role of women and children.

In the last three decades of the 19th century Europe launched what historians now call “the new imperialism” – a process that affected the entire world with short and long-term consequences. The course will examine how non-European cultures and local élites responded to this apparent aggression. Were they merely victims of imperialism or did they embrace the European model of economic and social progress – albeit reluctantly? Readings will focus, in particular, on the much debated cases of East Africa and India.

Finally the course will examine some unexpected developments which took place at the turn of the 19th Century and paved the way to the First World war, namely the rise of totalitarian political regimes, social-darwinism and modern antisemitism, with particular emphasis on France, Germany and Russia.

There are no course books to purchase. All reading material for study and class discussions will be distributed in class and/or made available on Moodle.


Readings and class discussions will enable students to identify some of the most unique features of 19th century Europe and provide the analytical tools to investigate the long-term political, social and even psychological ramifications of events that shaped modern Europe and the world. Students will also learn about the institutional changes that took place in individual European countries as well as in local traditions, economic systems and religious values. The study will be conducted through the reading of classic works of modern historiography and the analysis of recent interdisciplinary studies devoted to the rise of a European identity. Thus, students who complete the course will become knowledgeable about the modern roots of European society and fully aware of its various cultural components and traditions.

Class participationClass participation means becoming involved in class discussions, preparing assigned readings in advance, cooperating for a productive class environment.15%
Midterm examThe midterm exam is intended to verify the acquisition of factual information from readings and lectures. Guidelines are distributed one week in advance and they include a list of keywords and essay questions. 25
Individual paperThe paper (8 to 10 pages) is an individual, original research into a topic that should be discussed in advance with the instructor. In the choice of the subject students should consider that a comprehensive bibliography is essential. A detailed abstract of the project should be provided in advance to the instructor and will be distributed in class for discussion.30
Final examThe first part of the final exam is intended to verify the acquisition of factual information from readings and lectures. Guidelines are distributed one week in advance and they include a list of keywords and essay questions. The second part of the exam is a broad interpretive question on the history of late 19th Century Europe.30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Topics that will be discussed in class are listed here. Each week readings will be made available on Moodle.

Week 1. Sep. 2-4:             Napoleon and the legacy of the French revolution

Week 2 Sep. 9-11:            The European environment and the British industrial revolution

Week 3 Sep. 16-18:          The new French revolutions

Make up: Sep. 20:            The Greek war of independence

Week 4. Sep. 23-25:         Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto

Week 5. Sep. 30-Oct. 2:   The question of German unification: Napoleon to Bismarck

Week 6. Oct. 7-9:             France: art, poetry, literature

Week 7. Oct. 14-16:         The Russian dilemmas: tradition and modernization

Week 8. Oct.21-28:          Queen Victoria and the making of the British Empire

Week 9. Oct. 28-30:         The return of nationalism: Italy, Poland, Hungary

Week 10. Nov. 4-6:           Napoleon III and the rebuilding of Paris

Week 11. Nov. 11-13:       E.D. Morel: Congo and the “Belgian atrocities”

Week 12: Nov. 18-20:       The scramble for Africa. The “strong brown God”

Week 13: Nov. 25-27:       Economic imperialism? Kerala and the world rubber industry

Week 14: Dec. 2-4:           War and peace: Sir Norman Angell and The Great Illusion


Readings will include excerpts and chapters from:

N. Bonaparte, Memoirs of the History of France

F. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England

E. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolutions

D. Pinkney, Napoleon III and the Rebuilding of Paris

R. Robinson, J. Gallagher, Africa and the Victorians. The Official Mind of Imperialism

E. Radzinskij, Alexander II

A.J.P. Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe

E.P. Thompson, The making of the English Working Class

D. Worster (ed.), The Ends of the Earth. Perspectives on Environmental History


The midterm exam will be held on October 16 during class hours. 
Outlines of individual papers are due on November 4
Complete drafts of papers are due on December 4,  last day of classes