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COURSE NAME: "Nineteenth-Century Europe and the World"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 11:30 AM 12:45 PM
OFFICE HOURS: MW 10:00-10:45 or by appointment

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.


This course will be composed of a mixture of in-class discussion, on-line discussion (Moodle), and some lecture.  For an overview of topics to be discussed and readings, see the course schedule.  Please note that all up-dates to that course schedule will be made directly to the course Moodle page--you should access it on a regular basis.


A Note on How We Should Approach this Semester


Most generally, I am committed to the principle that my aims as an undergraduate history instructor should be to push (and to help) you to develop the skills, capacities, and modes of interpretation and understanding that will allow you to engage critically with the human past, the traces it has left, the ever-renewing knowledge we have of it, and its meanings for our present.  My role is that of a ‘coach,’ not a performer playing a show or a talking head telling you what’s what (although sometimes I will suggest my understandings of that too).  With this approach, you will without doubt learn more and develop abilities that are useful in other settings more fully than if I simply lectured and asked you to repeat that material on exams, and you will likely find what we do more interesting too. However, for this approach to work, we all need to commit ourselves to meeting the following expectations:


1.  Do the course reading (and especially the discussion reading) on a timely basis. You absolutely must complete it before the class in which we are discussing it and (if relevant) the deadline for making a related forum post (if you can finish it even earlier and thus have a bit more time to think about it, that’s even better).  At times this course will involve a significant amount of out-of-class reading.  I know that this may be a challenge for some of you, but we collectively need an ample amount of solid material to work with to make our discussions meaningful.  Also, do know that with practice you will develop your abilities to deal with larger amounts of reading in limited time frames.  If you wish, we can talk more about how to do the reading and the kinds of things you should be looking for in doing it in class.


2. When relevant, respect deadlines for discussion forum posts, and whenever possible post (and respond to classmates’ posts) sooner rather than later.  While these posts do count towards your participation grade, they are not ‘homework’ that you should do to show me that you are doing the work.  Rather, they are opportunities for you to develop, share, and debate your thoughts and questions about the reading and other course material with one another.  We have to meet deadlines to give that interaction space to happen.


3.  When you are present, be present.  We should make the most of the 2 ½ hours we meet each week to engage with the course materials and learn together.  During that time, we should all be focused on that effort and not other things such as checking social media, catching up on e-mail, studying for other courses or whatever else may distract us from the matters at hand.  Doing otherwise is disrespectful to the other members of the class, including me.  As such, if you really, really need to be doing something else, just don’t come to class.


4.  Maintain a respectful, professional tone in your responses and posts, but don’t be afraid to experiment with ideas and interpretations out of fear that they may be controversial (just work on clearly expressing your reasoning).  On this note, I think our discussions will function best if we all work on the assumption that each of us is openly and forthrightly attempting to grapple with the complexities and ambiguities of our shared human past and its relationship to our present (and as such that the things we say and write are never intended to harm or to insult).  Engaging with that past often forces us to look at the many horrid and ugly things that humans have done to and thought about (and continue to do to and think about) one another, which can be a difficult and painful experience.  Frank and open discussion is the best way both to seek to understand that past and to forge civil and tolerant ways of interacting and living with it and one another in the present.


5.  Give credit where credit is due and be sure that all work you hand in is your own.  Not only does plagiarism or any other form of cheating defeat the whole purpose of going to university to learn and to improve one’s abilities, it undermines the basic trust any community needs to learn and work together.  The recent emergence of more effective forms of artificial intelligence (e.g., Chat GPT) presents new challenges in these regards.  Given the newness of this phenomenon and uncertainty regarding the implications it may present for students and teachers I would like for us to discuss it before establishing firm course policies—we’ll have that discussion by the end of the second week of classes.  


6.  Try not to be too nervous about grades.  We learn through practice, we all fall short of our aims sometimes, and we sometimes learn more from falling short than anything else.  I purposefully keep many assignments fairly open in terms of the types of topics and arguments you may develop to give you the freedom to present your ideas and sharpen your abilities, and such freedom always entails risks.  Know that I put mechanisms in place to weigh the improvement that you make over the course into the calculation of your final course grade.


7.  Keep lines of communication open.  Please know that the ways in which I structure classroom sessions and on-line discussion activities in this syllabus remain experimental and may change.  Please share your thoughts on them and feel free to suggest approaches, ways of organizing discussions (in-person or on-line), or other activities that you believe may help you and your classmates to better engage with the course material.  I cannot neglect my responsibility to set the rules for the game that is our course in ways that I believe best assure both academic rigor and fairness across the class, but you can be assured that I will value and carefully consider any suggestions you may make. More generally, if you have questions or concerns regarding any matters relating to the course, please do feel free to share them with me. 

In successfully completing this course, you should:

     Cultivate an understanding of the most important themes and developments of nineteenth-century European and global history;
     Develop an understanding of some of the most important modes of analysis that historians use to reconstruct and interpret that past.

You should work on developing (and improving) the following skills:

      Critical analysis of primary sources;
      Critical analysis of historians’ and other scholars' arguments;
      Developing well-reasoned, well-supported arguments;
      Effectively communicating your arguments in writing and oral discussion.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
A Concise History of Modern Europe, 4th editionDavid S. MasonRowman & Littlefield 978-1-5381-1327-1 Previous editions are fine.  Almost Corner Bookshop 

ParticipationYour regular participation in our class discussions will be key to making this course work, and by actively participating not only will you learn more, you’ll develop useful communicative skills and likely find course material to be more interesting. Participation also counts for a significant portion of your final course grade, and it is the only component of that final course grade in which simple effort and regular activity translate directly into a high grade. What do you need to do for this? Primarily do the discussion readings on time, be ready to talk about them, and engage regularly and actively in some combination of our in-class discussions and the Moodle discussion forums for the course. In addition, you should bring a question or observation to each class session about the day’s readings that you believe would provide a good starting point for a discussion of those readings. Frequently, I will begin the discussion portion of class by asking several of you to share these questions/observations with the rest of class. Please note that behaving in ways that create distractions for other members of the class (including the professor) will lower your participation grade. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to: messaging, checking social media, catching up on e-mail, watching on-line videos, reading non-class related materials, studying for other courses, shopping on-line, and generally any activity that detracts from your or any other classmate's full participation in what we are doing in the classroom.15%
3-4 Reaction Papers (1 1/2 to 2 double-spaced pages/350-500 words each)In each of the reaction papers (see the course schedule for due dates), you will develop a brief but coherent and well-supported argument regarding the discussion readings for the day on which the paper is due. In these papers, you should not summarize the reading, but rather develop a main thought of your own building on those readings. Ways of developing such arguments include, but are not limited to: critiquing some part of the argument of a secondary source, testing some part of the argument of a secondary source through the analysis of a primary source, comparing and contrasting different readings, or developing a point made by one of the authors more fully and in doing so explaining more of what it may tell us about the subject under discussion. Your grade for these reaction papers will be determined by the strength and focus of your analysis, the persuasiveness of your argument (including quality of writing), and the originality of your thought.25%
Midterm ExamThe midterm exam will be composed of two essay questions I will give you the week before the exam. You will answer one of those questions. You may make use of two double-sided pages of notes during the exam, provided that you submit them for my review before starting the exam. Your grade on the exam will depend upon the analytical strength and persuasiveness of your arguments, your capacity to discuss the material we cover in the course to date (including level of mastery of course readings), and the factual accuracy of your answers. Remember that what you are being tested on is your ability to develop and present a strong, well-supported argument building on the course materials, not simply provide a 'correct' answer to the question you choose.25%
Final ExamThe final exam will be composed of two essay questions I will give you the week before the exam. You will answer one of those questions. You may make use of two double-sided pages of notes during the exam, provided that you submit them for my review before starting the exam. Your grade on the exam will depend upon the analytical strength and persuasiveness of your arguments, your capacity to discuss the material we cover in the course as a whole (including level of mastery of course readings), and the factual accuracy of your answers. Remember that what you are being tested on is your ability to develop and present a strong, well-supported argument building on the course materials, not simply provide a 'correct' answer to the question you choose.35%

A Work 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, thorough, and insightful engagement with the course reading and other materials.
B This is a highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of significant engagement with the course reading and other materials.
C This is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
D This level of performance 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.
F This work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


See above on participation.  To participate regularly, you have to be present regularly and that means being in class in person.  Should you have to miss a class or classes, keep up with the reading schedule posted on Moodle, try to participate even more actively in the Moodle forums related to that class or week, and get the notes from one of your fellow students.  Finally, feel free to stop by my office hours.  

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.



Course Readings

The textbook reading (Mason) complements our discussions and the lectures by providing you with further contextual information and different interpretations of past events. You should try do the textbook reading for the day it is assigned, and this is even more important if this is the first time you have studied these topics. It should be available at the Almost Corner Bookshop (Via del Moro, 45).

Please note that I have chosen a textbook that provides a very short and basic introduction to major developments in nineteenth-century Europe in light of the extensive nature of our other required readings.  Given the global scope of the course, we will rarely be able to discuss specific historical events to the extent that they merit.  As such, you may find it useful to refer to one or more of the following to get a fuller, deeper review of European and world History during the 19th century:

Robin W. Winks and Joan Neuberger, Europe and the Making of Modernity, 1815-1914
C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914
Jonathan Sperber, Revolutionary Europe, 1780-1850 and Europe 1850-1914: Progress: Participation and Apprehension

All other readings provide the basis for our classroom and on-line discussions.  You must read and think about those assigned for a particular class period and/or the deadline for making a related forum post prior to the relevant class session/deadline.  Otherwise, you will be unable to participate adequately and your participation grade will suffer. You should also bring this material to class on the days that we are discussing it.

Please note that in using on-line primary sources I am not necessarily endorsing the more general content and intent of the websites on which they are found.


Important Course Policies

All assignments should be handed in through the Moodle portal for the assignment.

All late work will be penalized by at least one letter grade. No late work will be accepted following the final examination.

Any documented case of academic dishonesty on any assignment will result in a failing grade for the assignment in question and may also result in a failing grade for the course as a whole, regardless of the assignment's weight in terms of the final course grade. Please remember that, as the University's policy states, "Plagiarism can be deliberate or negligent; students are responsible for ensuring that any work submitted with their name on it is properly referenced."  If you have questions about how to cite material properly, refer to the appropriate sections of the MLA Style Manual or Chicago Manual of Style--if you have questions as to whether particular pieces of material should be cited, ask me. Note that submitting work that you have previously submitted (or plan to submit) for credit in another course is also a form of academic dishonesty, unless you obtain explicit approval from both instructors to do so. For this course, no such double submission is allowed. Please note that your papers and are to be submitted to turnitin.com to check their content for plagiarism.  I am setting up the turintin submission options so that you can see the similarity reports the service generates and resubmit your papers up until the due date.

Academic Honesty Policy—Generative Artificial Intelligence Update

The University’s Academic Integrity policies were recently updated to include “[t]he unauthorized use of generative AI” as one of the forms that academic dishonesty can take.  In light of this change, here are the policies for this course regarding generative AI (e.g., ChatGPT).

The use of generative AI for the direct composition of course assignments (e.g., papers and exam essays) is not permitted.  Simply put, your papers and essays should not include text generated by Artificial Intelligence unless that text is placed in quotation marks and identified as such.

Other uses of AI (e.g., as “idea generators,” bibliographic or source-finding assistants, proof-readers) are discouraged as they may limit the fuller development of the skills, capacities, and habits of mind that constitute some of the primary aims and benefits of university education, but do not necessarily fall into the category of “unauthorized use.”  If you do use generative AI in any of these or other manners, however, you must identify that you have done so explicitly in the paper or exam essay in question.  


Office Hours, Scheduling Appointments, E-mail Guidance, and So Forth

My drop-in office hours are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 to 10:45 a.m..  I am also available by appointment--to set one up, simply e-mail me or ask me just after class.  Depending on your preference we can meet wither in person (my office is on the Frohring/ex-Tiber Roof) or via Teams using the link posted on the course Moodle page.


Please know that I do not normally respond to e-mails during the weekend or after 6:30 p.m. (but feel free to write me whenever you wish--I'll respond as soon as I can the next week or the next day).  We all need to set aside time to work on other things, disconnect, recharge, and 'stay human.'  I encourage you to do the same in ways that work with your schedule and try to do what I can to provide you with as much flexibility as possible in structuring out-of-class activities.


On-line Moodle Discussion Forum


“Reflecting on the Week, Continuing our Classroom Discussion” Forum: For this weekly forum, I will post 1-2 discussion questions or prompts based on the week's discussion readings and the material I anticipate us discussing in class.  These prompts/questions usually push us to think about how the varied material we discuss fits together into larger pictures and themes.  As such, participating in this forum is also useful for making such connections yourselves, and through that preparing for the course exams.  Feel free to post as much as you like.  There is no required length for your posts (if you likely need a few sentences to make your point clearly and effectively).  This weekly forum closes on Monday the following week. (Maximum expected time per week, not including the time needed to do the reading: 15-30 minutes)



Course Schedule (Please note that the following is subject to change and that any updates will be made directly to the weekly schedule on the course Moodle page.)

9/4 Introductions—Modernity and the Old Regime

FOR DISCUSSION: “Nineteenth-Century Modernity According to Contemporaries”  


9/6 The Old Regime and the Atlantic Revolutions

Mason, 1-36 (Introduction, Chps. 1-2)

FOR DISCUSSION: “Early Modern, Old Regime, Criminal Justice” and “The Declaration of Rights of Man”



9/11 and 9/13 The Atlantic Revolutions and their Napoleonic Aftermath

FOR DISCUSSION: “The Declaration of Rights of Man;” "Napoleon's Account of the Internal Situation of France in 1804"



9/18 The Birth of Modern Ideologies, Part I—Conservatism, Liberalism, and Democratic Radicalism

Review Mason, 23-36 (Ch. 2)

FOR DISCUSSION: Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (excerpts); Tocqueville, Democracy in America (excerpts)


9/20 The “Restoration” and Its Discontents

Mason, 47-52 (First 4 sections of Ch. 4)

FOR DISCUSSION: Bayly, "Between World Revolutions, c. 1815-1865," 125-128, 139-147; Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (excerpts); Tocqueville, Democracy in America (excerpts); The French Constitutional Charter (1814);  Bolivar, "Letter to General Juan José Flores: Ploughing the Sea (Colombia, 1830);" "Tocqueville on the Dangers of US Disunion;"  Tsar Nicholas I, "Imperial Manifesto on Poland, 1832);"  Guizot, "Condition of the July Monarchy (France, 1831-1842)"

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 1 (11:59 p.m.)



9/25 The Industrial Revolution, I—Global Causes, Comparisons and Technology

Mason, 37-46 (Ch. 3)

FOR DISCUSSION: Marks, “The Industrial Revolution and Its Consequences, 1750-1850”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 1 (11:59 p.m.)


9/27 The Industrial Revolution, II—Local Social and Cultural Consequences

FOR DISCUSSION: Stearns, “The Social History Approach;” “Women Miners in the English Coal Pits;” Dickens, Hard Times (Excerpt); Ure, “The Philosophy of the Manufacturers;” “Observations on the Loss of Woolen Spinning, 1794;” “Leeds Woolen Workers Petition, 1786;” “Letter from Leeds Cloth Merchants, 1791”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 1 (11:59 p.m.)



10/2 The Industrial Revolution III—Global Impacts I, or Slavery and Antislavery

FOR DISCUSSION: Davis, “Explanations of British Abolitionism;” Beckert, “Slavery Takes Command”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 1 (11:59 p.m.)


10/4 The Birth of Modern Ideologies, Part II—Economic Liberalism and Early Socialisms

FOR DISCUSSION: Smith, Wealth of Nations excerpts; Ricardo, “The Iron Law of Wages;” Tristan, “Excerpts from Worker’s Union;” Saint-Simon, “Letters of an Inhabitant of Geneva”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 1 (11:59 p.m.)



10/9 Questions of Feeling—Religious Revival, Cultural Romanticism and the Changing World of Artistic Production

FOR DISCUSSION: Salmi, “From the Cult of Genius to the Worship of Art”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 1 (11:59 p.m.) 


10/11 The Birth of Modern Ideologies, Part III—Nationalism

Mason, Review 47-52 (First 4 sections of Ch. 4)

FOR DISCUSSION: Salmi, "On the Cultural History of Nationalism;" Herder, "Materials for the Philosophy of Mankind;" and Mazzini, "An Essay on the Duties of Man"

Last Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 1 (11:59 p.m.)  



10/16 Mid-Century Transitions, I—China, the British Empire and the Opium Wars

FOR DISCUSSION: “The First Opium War”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 2 (11:59 p.m.)


10/18 Mid-Term Exam


10/20 Official Friday University Make-up Day

The Making of the Global North and Global South—A First Look at the Second Half of the Century

FOR DISCUSSION: Marks, “The Gap”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 2 (11:59 p.m.)



10/23 Mid-Century Transitions, III—The European Revolutions of 1848

Mason, 52-57 (Remainder of Ch. 4)

FOR DISCUSSION:Carl Schurz, "A Look Back;" "General Chronology--1848 Revolutions Across Europe"


10/25 Mid-Century Transitions, II—Global Instability from the 1840s to the 1860s

FOR DISCUSSION: Bayly, “Between World Revolutions” (Excerpts)

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 2 (11:59 p.m.)



10/30 Mid-Century Transitions, IV—The “Second Industrial Revolution” and the “Great Depression of the Nineteenth Century”

FOR DISCUSSION: "Tables Illustrating the Spread of Industrialization;" "The Spread of Railways;" "Economic Cycles 1815-1914"



11/6 Uniting the World, Dividing People and Spaces, I—Transportation, the Telegraph and Mass Migration

FOR DISCUSSION: McKeown, "Global Migration, 1846-1940;" "Letters from Polish Immigrants in America"

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 2 (11:59 p.m.) 


11/8 Uniting the World, Dividing People and Spaces, II—Disease, Sanitation, and Urban Transformations

FOR DISCUSSION:  Bayly, “Worldwide Urban Cultures and their Critics;” Headrick, “Cities, Sanitation and Segregation”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 2 (11:59 p.m.)



11/13 Modern Living—Consumption, Class and Culture in Paris and Latin America

FOR DISCUSSION: Zola, The Ladies Paradise (Excerpts); Images of Parisian Department Stores; Bauer, “Extranjerizacion: The Self-Estrangement of the Belle Epoque Elite”

Last Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 2 (11:59 p.m.)


11/15 Modern Beliefs—Religion and Science in the Age of Darwin

Mason, 71-81(Ch. 6)

FOR DISCUSSION: Bayly, “Empires of Religion” (Excerpts); Al-Afghani, “Lecture on Teaching and Learning;” Wilberforce, “On Darwin’s Origin of Species;” “ Mivart, “On the Genesis of the Species, 1871;” Gladstone, “Points of Supposed Collision Between the Scriptures and Natural Science”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 3 (11:59 p.m.)  



11/20 The Evolution of Modern Ideologies, I—Marxist Socialism, Anarchism, and Russian Populism

Mason, 59-69 (Ch. 5)

FOR DISCUSSION: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto; Bernstein, “Evolutionary Socialism;” Bakunin, “Stateless Socialism: Anarchism;” “The Letter of the Executive Committee of the Will of the People to Tsar Alexander III”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 3 (11:59 p.m.)  


11/22 The Evolution of Modern Ideologies, II–-Nationalism Transformed?

Mason, 83-92 (Ch. 7)

FOR DISCUSSION: Hobsbawm, “Mass Producing Traditions;” TBA

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 3 (11:59 p.m.) 



11/27 Global Empires and the “Gap,” I—Means and Motivations

Mason, 93-102

FOR DISCUSSION: TBA; “British Missionary Letters Urging the Annexation of the South Sea Islands, 1883;” Lugard, “The Rise of Our East African Empire, 1893;” Ferry, “On French Colonial Expansion, 1884;” Earl of Cromer, “Why Britain Acquired Egypt in 1892, 1908;” Prince Utomski, “Russia’s Imperial Destiny, 1891”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 3 (11:59 p.m.)


11/29 Global Empires and the “Gap,” II—Colonial Experiences in the Congo Free State

FOR DISCUSSION: Encyclopedia Britannica, “Congo Free State” (1902); Casement, “The Congo Report;” TBA

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 3 (11:59 p.m.)



12/4 Global Empires and the “Gap,” III—Metropolitan Experiences, Racism, and “Civilization”

FOR DISCUSSION: Pearson, “National Life from the Standpoint of Science;” “Galton, “The Comparative Worth of Different Races;” Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden, 1899”

Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 3 (11:59 p.m.)


12/6 Is This The End?—Fin de Siècle Culture and the Rise of an Avant-Garde

Mason, 103-107 (First five sections of Ch. 9)

FOR DISCUSSION: Salmi, “Fin de Siècle;” Salmi, “Things to Come;” Nietzsche, “The Madman”

Last Possible Due Date for Reaction Paper 3 (11:59 p.m.)


Final Exam TBA