Courses 2021

European History since 1815

Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Trends

Karl VocelkaJuly 19 – July 304 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, Enlightenment
  • European Countries 1815 – 1918 – 1945 – 1989
  • Political systems in Europe including Fascism and Communism
  • Demographic development – urbanization – migration – genocide
  • Nationalism – national states versus multinational giants
  • The East West conflict and the Iron Curtain
  • The building of the European Union
  • Economic development (industrialization, mechanization of agriculture, colonialism, globalization)
  • Social changes (from a class society to modern society)
  • Selected examples of cultural changes (e.g. The birth of modernity around 1900, scientific progress and ecological ideas, housing, food, and beverages)


Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 20%, three assessements (short papers) 40%, and a written final paper (essay-type) 40% of the grade.

European Identities - Aspects of European Visual Culture

Monika Schwärzler-BrodesserJuly 19 – July 304 ECTS credits


The course will deal with images and visual culture phenomena specifically developed in and for the European context. It will familiarize students with a number of strategies and concepts for delivering messages that come in visual form. The corresponding visuals will be mostly drawn from the field of art, but also from popular culture and the media. While the aesthetic parameters of the presented visuals will be important, the main focus will be on the social practices reflected in them. Priority will be given to visualizations that are daring, subversive, and play on common and already familiar pictorial codes.


Course objectives:

  • To train and enhance students' visual literacy and turn them into critical readers of visual information, which is becoming increasingly  important in today's communication.
  • To make them aware of the codes and genres on which most of today's visuals are based.
  • To familiarize them with some of the most influential European players in the field of photography and art.


Specific course topics:

  • Staged and digitally enhanced photography and the realities these photos create.
  • Visual concepts of commemoration.
  • Visuals and gender codes / picturing femininity and masculinity.
  • Artistic interventions and subversive re-definitions of public space.
  • Visual narratives and storyboards.
  • Bodies, sculptures, 3-D hybrids as carriers of meaning.
  • The design of social activities and engagement.


For this course, no specific prior background in art or visual culture is needed. Students with a strong interest in visuals, their aesthetic qualities, and their analytic appeal will find this course stimulating.


Requirements: Attendance and active participation (20% of the grade), a summary of one class unit of choice (20%), reading (20%), and the final paper (40%).