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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 such measures as ineffective and perhaps even complicit in maintaining the status quo. Along the spectrum of leftwing political thought, syndicalists and anarchists shared the conviction that the State could not be reformed from within. In some cases,
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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 characteristic of peoples, and in many cases in Europe it is a relatively recent invention. As such, there are many different characteristics according to which national communities can be defined, or, in Benedict Anderson's phrase, imagined. Along with r
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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 and upper classes were forced to inhabit the same confined space as workers. Significantly, this had opposed effects in Europe, where the working classes typically inhabit the periphery of cities, and the United States, where they are most often in the city c
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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 1848, a year in which almost every major European nation faced a revolutionary upsurge, is why England did not have its own revolution despite the existence of social tensions. Two principal reasons account for this fact: first, the success of reformist political
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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 three different, but related examples: grain riots across Europe in the first half of the century, the mythical figure of Captain Swing in England, and the Demoiselles of the Ariège in France. While these movements were ultimately repressed by the forces of capita
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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 described in terms of the rise of plural middle classes. While the classes comprising this group were united by their search for power based on property rights rather than hereditary privilege, they were otherwise strikingly diverse. Contemporary stereotypes of the
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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 the more gradual process of industrialization in countries like France, and the persistence of older methods of artisanal production alongside new forms of mechanization. To understand the Industrial Revolution it is also necessary to take into account the Ag
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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 agree with stereotypical notions of Corsican culture. Did Napoleon inaugurate the era of total war? This question, posed in a recent book, is up for debate. On one hand, the violence of the Revolution and the Napoleonic wars may not seem uniquely devastating in
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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 military adversaries abroad, but also by domestic counter-revolutionaries. Under this latter heading were gathered two major groups, urban mercantilists and rural peasants. Relative strength of religious commitment is the major factor in explaining w
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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 should also be understood in the context of the public sphere and popular press. Alongside such luminaries as those associated with Diderot's Encyclopédie were a host of lesser pamphleteers and libellists eager for fame and some degree of fortune. If the writin
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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 culture. Despite his notorious personal brutality, Peter's enthusiasm for science and modern intellectual concerns made an indelible mark both on Russia's relationship to the West and on its internal politics. The struggle under Peter's reign between Westerni
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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 large middle class, with a vested interest in preserving independence from centralized authority, and national traditions of resistance dating from the English Civil War and the Dutch war for independence from Spain, respectively. In both countries anti-absolutism fo
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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 devastation of these conflicts, European nobles and landowners were increasingly willing to surrender their independence to the authority of a single, all-powerful monarch in return for guaranteed protection. Among the consequences of this consolidation of sta
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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 men," attention will also be paid to the development of themes over the long term and the experiences of people and groups often excluded from official histories. Among the principle questions to be addressed are the consolidation of state power, the formation
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Listen: How voters view authority speaks volumes about political views
Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, co-authored by Vanderbilt political scientist Marc Hetherington, focuses on the reasons behind the political realignment of the past several decades. More liberals are voting for Democrats and more conservatives are choosing GOP candidates, Hetherington said.
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Listen: Read the Bills!
Vanderbilt Centennial Professor of Philosophy John Lachs has proposed that legislators be tested on their specific knowledge of bills under consideration in Congress. Lachs is dismayed that several national lawmakers have admitted recently to not reading the material on which they are voting.
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Listen: Professor‘s year in Baghdad leads to unique course about the war in Iraq
Last fall Vanderbilt students had the rare opportunity in an interdisciplinary class called "The War in Iraq" to take an in-depth look at the facts on the ground in Iraq between 2003 and the present. Humanities 161 was co-taught by political scientist Katherine Carroll and Mike Newton, professor of the practice of law.
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Listen: Professor’s year in Baghdad leads to unique course about the war in Iraq
Last fall Vanderbilt students had the rare opportunity in an interdisciplinary class called "The War in Iraq" to take an in-depth look at the facts on the ground in Iraq between 2003 and the present. Humanities 161 was co-taught by political scientist Katherine Carroll and Mike Newton, professor of the practice of law.
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Censorship in South Africa: Introduction
Peter McDonald talks briefly about what first interested him in Censorship of Literature in South Africa
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Drinking Parties in Ancient Greece
James Davidson and David Fearn discuss ancient Greek bards and their booze.
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