Dark Legacies: Coming To Terms With Europe’s Twentieth Century

Course Description: 

Europe is now often praised as a model case of how to overcome nationalism and war through inter-state cooperation and cultural tolerance. Yet, at the same time, the struggle to come to terms with the legacies of a ‘dark continent’ (Mark Mazower) has continued to this very day. This course engages with one of the core questions of this struggle: collective memory. The first part of the course introduces a range of key issues in the study of collective memory such as the relationship between individual and collective memory, as well as the debates about memories’ persistence and change, and the salience of memory politics. In the second and third part of the course, we turn to the empirical patterns of how Europe’s ‘dark legacies’ have left their traces in collective memories across the continent, paying equal attention to fascism and World War II on the one hand, and communism on the other hand. The analysis combines comparisons between countries and European sub-regions with a more detailed focus on specific vectors of memory such as history writing, museums and film.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course students will be able to:

 1)    Appreciate the importance of ‘dark legacies’ for the development of European societies after 1945

2)    Engage with theoretical concepts and debates in the study of collective memory

3)    Discuss similarities and differences in how Europe’s fascist and communist past has been confronted across the continent

  1. Attendance and active participation (15 % of final grade)
  2. In-class test (15 %)
  3. Seminar presentation (15 % of final grade)
  4. Two short critiques of readings (25 % of final grade)
  5. Final Paper (30 % of final grade).