Monday, January 29, 2007

The Long Nineteenth Century

Back to teaching: my current course is "The Long Nineteenth Century," essentially an intermediate historiography course for undergraduates. How long was the Long Nineteenth Century? How sexy is a course about the age of prudery? I hope to convince that this era of European history is the perfect vehicle for studying the paradigms and tropes of modernization that can be applied to other places and other eras.

So, to the syllabus. As you can tell, there are four broad themes that we will explore: revolution, social structure, nationalism, anxiety. What I hope to get across is the duality of the spirit of the age: change and progress that turns on itself.

I think I've picked out some interesting readings. After Andrew's recommendation, I've assigned Ernest Gellner's Nations and Nationalism, which works as both an outline of modernization as well as a strawman. We also colluded on the decision to assign Gide's The Immoralist. Michael Gross' The War against Catholicism is my favorite recent work in German history, and I am anxious to share it with students. There are a few chestnuts: how could I teach such a class and not assign something from Peasants into Frenchmen?

Finally, I'll experiment with having students contribute to a blog. It will be for members only, although I am sure there are people out there who'll wonder how well it's going.

This course explores the “Long Nineteenth Century,” an era that began with the French Revolution, ended effectively with World War One, and defined the paradigm of modernity. Rather than offering a straight account of what happened, the course will approach important historical themes that will help students develop their own interests. We will explore the meaning and impact of revolution, the evolution of social structures, conditions and attitudes of women, the nation as a political concept, and the cultural shift from faith in reason and progress to subjectivity and irrationality.

The following are available for you to purchase at Odyssey Books at the Village Commons.
TCW Blanning, ed., The Nineteenth Century: Europe, 1789-1914
Michael Gross, TheWar against Catholicism
Søren Kierkegård, Fear and Trembling
André Gide, The Immoralist
Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism

Other readings include selections of primary sources, articles and chapters from books. Many of them are available online, either at internet sites or available on JSTOR. All other readings will be made available at the library on short-term reserve, although I will endeavor, when possible, to put them online for you. Each student will come to class prepared, having read everything for that day and with two written questions based on the reading. (Note: readings are set only to February 19. Changes should be anticipated.)

January 29 First day: introduce course, readings, assignments; themes of nineteenth century history; students’ input on tailoring syllabus.

Age of Revolution

January 31 States and Estates
Reading Blanning, p. 1-9
Gellner, p. 8-18

February 5 Enlightenment and the Public Sphere
Reading: Kant, “What is Enlightenment” (online)

February 7 Coming of the French Revolution
Abbé Sieyès, “What is the Third Estate” (online)

February 12 Citizens
Reading: Dorinda Outram, “The Guillotine, the Soul, and the Audience for Death” in The Body and the French Revolution, p. 106-123
Gouges, “Declaration of the Rights of Women” (online)

February 14 World of Revolution
Blanning, 9-33, 158-165
Schurz, “Looking Back at 1848" (online)

February 19 Industrial Revolution
Reading: Blanning, 89-97
Gellner, 19-38
E.P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism” (JSTOR)

February 21 Romanticism
Readings: ETA Hoffmann, “The Sandman” (online)

February 26 Kierkegaard
Reading: Søren Kierkegård, Fear and Trembling

Modern Society

February 28 Bourgeoisie
Readings: Blanning 47-61

March 5 Private Life
Readings: Marion Kaplan, Making of the Jewish Middle Class (selection TBA)

March 7 Liberalism
Mill, “The Subjection of Women” (selection TBA)
Jurgen Kocka, “The Middle Classes of Europe” (JSTOR)

March 12 Secularism
Reading: Michael Gross, The War against Catholicism
Blanning, 130-140

March 14 Renewed Spirituality and Crisis of Identity
Reading: Michael Gross, The War against Catholicism

March 26 Conservatism
Readings: Blanning, 70-77
Pius X, Syllabus of Errors (online)
Metternich, Political Confessions of Faith (online)

March 28 Workers and Social Politics
Readings: Blanning, p. 61-70, 85-89
Flora Tristan, “The Workers’ Union” (online)
Friedrich Engels, “Principles of Communism” (online)
Leo XIII, “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor” (online)

April 2 Urbanization
Readings: Carl Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna (selection TBA)
René Schickele, “City Folk”

Age of Nationalism

April 4 Nationalism
Reading: Mazzini, “On Nationality” (online)
Blanning, 33-46, 104-118, 140-146
Gellner, 38-62

April 9 Nationalization
Readings: Eugen Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen (selection TBA)
Gellner 63-88

April 11 Mass Culture
Readings: Michael Miller, The Bon Marché (selection TBA)
Gellner, 88-109

April 16 Imperialism
Readings: Gewald, Herero Heroes (selection TBA)
Rudyard Kipling, “White Man’s Burden” (online)
Blanning, 188-200, 224-32

Age of Aggression

April 18 Avant Garde
Readings: Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell (selection TBA)
Marinetti, “The Futurist Manifesto” (online)
Lenin, “Organization of Workers and Organization of Revolutionaries”, from What is to be done? (online)
Blanning, 152-7

April 23 Misogyny
Reading: Bram Dykstra, Idols of Perversity (selection TBA)

April 25 Sexuality
Reading: André Gide, The Immoralist

April 30 TBA

May 2 Persistence of the Old Regime
Blanning, 200-209, 233-240
Kafka, “Before the Law”
Gellner, 110-136

May 7 End
Blanning, 241-247
Gellner 137-43


At 6:46 PM, Blogger air said...

Be sure to let me know how they react to Gide. I'm curious to know what undergrads, especially those not taking a course explicitly about sexuality, make of it.

At 4:31 AM, Blogger Jonathan Dresner said...

I'm no expert on the field, but it looks fantastic. It's hard to see how you could shoehorn any more material or themes into a semester, without taking it to the grad level, and it looks like it should cohere pretty well.

Just be prepared for some wandering conversations: you're going to have to say "we'll get to that" a lot in the early weeks.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Nathanael said...


Will do. The college has a unique student body, and I expect that students will respond to the themes of sexual identity and masculinity.


I struggled to make the class accessible to undergrads. Three to five sessions would be about the equivalent of one meeting in a grad historiography seminar. I alse tried to give each of the themes its own flavor, so that political history would dominate in the beginning, social in the middle, cultural at end. Wandering conversations? I was thinking of ending each class with a preview of the next episode ("Same Bat Time, Same Bat Station"). I'll see how it goes--I can easily switch back to regular lecturing.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger J. Otto Pohl said...

Why do you say Gellner is a strawman?

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Nathanael said...

Strawman may be too strong a word, but Gellner's book has a way of raising objections even though it is thoughtful and well written. In particular, students seem to disagree with his interpretation of the role of culture. In some ways he is a strawman, allowing students to attack what they think is an easy target--he's just made of stronger stuff.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Ah….the sweet, smell of perfume! Today's market is flooded with hundreds and hundreds of different fragrances ranging from floral to woodsy. Most women love the smell of perfume, wearing it even when going to the grocery store. The problem is that perfume allergy for some women, is anything but nice.

At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



Post a Comment

<< Home