Schweikart on Western Civ

Course Outline

  1. Course Number/Name: Hist106, Western Civilization: 1700 to World War II

2.  Course Description: “Western Civilization from 1700 to World War II” approaches the study of the modern era from a practical level and on a deeper, philosophical, level. The course is designed to give students an understanding of the sweep of modern history from 1700 to the World War II. Underlying this course of study is the assumption that problems of modern society, like those of past societies, have their roots in constants of human thought and behavior—one might even say, permanent character flaws. This course will compare our civilization with that of others, both past and present.  More important, what is significant, or true, about either the similarities or differences?

3.  Course Goals: As students examine the ways in which different civilizations have developed, changed, merged, and diverged, they will develop a rational way of comparing and criticizing the differences and similarities among civilizations of both the past and present. By following the readings and assignments and mastering the subject matter of this course, students will develop a number of skills applicable to any profession or occupation: critical thinking, analysis of factual material and—what is often overlooked—basic work and study habits. All are necessary for successful performance in this class and in life. 

4. Learning Outcomes:  Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

  1. Explain how the commercialization of Europe accelerated the collapse of feudalism.
  2. Describe the State of Nature theorists and their concepts of life, liberty,
    and property and how these theories affect notions of just political rule.
  3. Compare and contrast how the Declaration of Independence and Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen reflect the concepts related to the State of Nature theories and theorists.
  4. Assess the historical significance of Napoleon to Europe’s map, its laws, and modern European politics.
  5. Evaluate the uniqueness of the Industrial Revolution to the West and the uniqueness of its affect on Western political thought.
  6. Summarize the life of Karl Marx and how his intellectual positions were colored by the events in Europe.
  7. Contrast the differences in the expansion of the franchise in economic liberty between Britain, France, and Germany in the mid 19th century.
  8. Identify and elaborate on the causes of imperialism and why Europeans were so successful at it.
  9. Describe and assess the relative importance among the causes of WWI.
  10. Outline the causes and course of the Russian Revolution, Treaty of Versailles, establishment of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of fascism.
  11. Identify the important people and policies in the restoration of Europe to a world power after WW II through the mid 1960s.
  12. Explain the origins of the Cold War.
  13. Argue if and how the US was weakened in power, or not, from 1960-1980.
  14. Examine the relationship between democracies and “big government.”
  15.  Historical Concepts, Persons, and Events:
    1. Constitutional crisis and settlement in Stuart England; rise of absolute monarchy in France; the Scientific revolution; Francis Bacon; Rene Descartes; Thomas Hobbes; John Locke; Galileo; Blaise Pascal; maritime exploration; Russia.
    1. The Old Regime; revolution in agriculture and the industrial revolution; mercantile empires; Spanish colonial system; Black African slavery; the American Revolution; the Philosophes; the Enlightenment; the French Revolution.
    1. Napoleon Bonaparte; the Congress of Vienna; the Romantic Movement; nationalism and liberalism.
    1. The industrial society; classical economics; early Socialism; 1848, Year of Revolutions; the Crimean War; German unification; France’s Third Republic; Russia; Great Britain.
    1. Universal education; Comte, Positivism; Darwin; Christianity and the Church; Nietzsche; psychoanalysis; New Imperialism; Alliance systems; World War I; the Russian Revolution; the Versailles Treaty.
    1. Postwar economic problems; Trotsky; the Third International; Italian Fascism; Mussolini; Eastern Europe; World War II; the Atlantic Charter
    1. Soviet Union; Stalin; the Welfare State.
    1. The Cold War; Khrushchev; the Suez; Polish; Hungarian crises; European Christian Democratic parties; Brezhnev; Gorbachev; collapse of European Communism.

6.  Recommended Reading:

In addition to lectures, the following books are strongly recommended for an overview of modern European history:

Larry Schweikart, A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to America’s Age of Entitlement (Sentinel; Rev Upd edition November 25, 2014). ASIN: B00INIXT5E  Kindle: $18.55.

Paul Johnson, Modern Times: A History of the World from the Twenties to the

Nineties (New York: HarperCollins, 1991; revised edl, 2001). ISBN-13: 978-0060935504. $14.18. Kindle: $3.79.

Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (Vintage, 2000). ISBN-13: 978-0679757047. $15.16. Kindle: $10.99.