Sonderweg Theories in European History

Course Description: 

The course traces one of the most interesting debates among historians, social scientists and public intellectuals through the 19th and 20th (and 21st!) centuries. “Sonderweg” is a German term (meaning “Special way”) that gained popularity after the second world war, as the German intellectuals attempted to grasp the origins of the catastrophe of Nazi dictatorship. The “Special way” theory claimed that there was a certain flaw in the German history that caused its deviation from the “normal” way of democratic development of the Western Europe. Later, the concept started to be used in other countries to signify alleged specific national (or regional) path of historical development. It met with various criticisms and it has undergone various modifications. Its history offers an excellent observation point to look at most important problems of European history and politics.


Requirements: Classroom activity (50 %) term paper (25 %), short presentation (25%).