European History since 1815

Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Trends

Karl VocelkaJuly 15 – July 264 ECTS credits


Europe changed in the last 200 years dramatically: borderlines moved, economy and society changed, there were breaks and continuations in the development of all countries. Without looking to the long history of the European continent one cannot understand Europe of today.

Many phenomena of the 19th and 20th century had a large impact on the identity constructions of European countries. Discussions about phenomena like former political structures, multi-nationalism, national identity, minorities etc. between participants of different countries and cultures will allow comparisons and connect this class to problems of the present. The course attaches great importance to culture, as this topic is - talking about Europe - often neglected.


The course deals in a broad way with all European countries, but has a clear focus on Central Europe and will cover the following topics:

  • What is Europe? Antique heritage - Christianity
  • What is Europe? Enlightenment - Human Rights
  • European Countries 1815 – 1918 – 1945 – 1989; Political systems in Europe including Fascism and Communism - Politicial Parties
  • Industrialization - Demgraphic development - Urbanization - Migration
  • Racism - Antisemitism - Genocide in Europe
  • Social changes (from a Class Society to Modern Society) - The East West Conflict and the Iron Curtain - Globalization and Colonialism - Cold war - The building of the European Union
  • Nationalism – National States versus Multinational Giants
  • Selected Examples of Cultural Changes I: Progress and Ecological Ideas - Housing
  • Selected Examples of Cultural Changes II: Nutrition, Drinking Habits 

Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 30%, a short paper 30% and a written final (essay-type) 40% of the grade.