European Culture: History & Arts
Full course description
Europe is usually seen as the birthplace of Western culture. Moreover, Europe played a dominant role in world affairs – both in politics and economy – from the 16th century onwards, especially after the beginning of colonialism, in the wake of the voyages of discovery. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European nations controlled at various times both Latin and North-America, large parts of Africa, and huge parts of Asia (- but not Japan!). After the Second World War, the importance of Europe declined, as the USA and the Soviet Union developed into the dominating powers in world politics. So, from the historian’s point of view, Europe was very important in the past, and, although not as dominant as it once was, still is influential in world affairs.
However: what is Europe? Is it one of the world’s seven continents, only to be defined in geographical terms? If so, where exactly are its borders? Does Russia belong to Europe? And where are the northern borders of Europe? Or is Europe something more than just a geographical entity? If so, what is it? Is Europe a culture? Or does Europe consist of more than one culture? In the course, we will try to address the question: what is Europe? The emphasis in the course will be on history; art shall be mainly used to illustrate historical developments.
By the end of the course students should have gained knowledge of and insight in questions concerning the identity of Europe, with regard to the historical and political dimensions of these questions.
Students will have developed:
▪ a broad, very general overview of European history
▪ knowledge of the history of the idea of Europe
▪ knowledge of the democratic traditions in European countries
▪ knowledge of the history of European integration, and its institutions
▪ knowledge of past and current relations between Europe and Third World-countries. Skill development
▪ the ability to participate in an informed way in a debate on European identity
▪ the ability to form an opinion of their own on questions regarding European identity
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