in the Nineteenth Century
George S. Craft Fall 2000
Math/History 131: 278-6400 (I have voice mail)
This course will conduct a
comparative study of the development of France and Germany in the 19th century,
roughly from the Congress of Vienna (1815) to the outbreak of World War
I. It starts from the assumption that both countries belong to a common
civilization, and yet have important differences due to their distinct national
traditions. The conventional wisdom is that they are very different (economy,
political traditions, etc.). We will test this generalization.
Some specific questions:
What were the similarities and
differences in the economies of the two countries? Was the German economy really
much more advanced by the end of the century? If so, how do you account for the
What were the differences in the
two countries’ political traditions (a parliamentary democracy with a weak
executive; and a mixed political system with important elements of traditional
privilege and authoritarianism)? How does one account for the differences?
What were the different impacts
of the French Revolution on the two countries?
Why were revolutionary forces
more powerful in France than in Germany in the late 18th and 19th
centuries? Why did the revolutionary impulse die out in France after 1870?
Describe precisely the process
of national unification in Germany in the 1860’s. What was the impact of this
process on the German political tradition and on international relations?
After so many constitutional
experiments, why did France finally settle on a republic in the 1870’s? Might
one describe the 3rd Republic a “success” in the years before World War I?
What were the real events behind
the scenes in the Dreyfus Affair (1894-99) in France?
What was its political impact?
What was the impact of
Bismarck’ s political system and of his leadership on the German political
community? How did the operation of the system change in the Wilhelminian days?
Was Germany in a serious crisis on the eve of World War I?
What are the relative
responsibilities of the two nations for the outbreak of World War I?
What happened to Germany in
these hundred years? How did you
get from a nation of philosophers and poets to her sad record in the 20th
The following books are assigned for the course:
Gordon Wright. France in Modern Times.
A classic text on the history of France since the 18th century that has
been revised many times. Very judicious and balanced analyses from an
outstandingly clear mind.
David Blackbourne, The Long Nineteenth Century: A
History of Germany, 1780-1918. A new (1998) text on Germany that is well
written and places political developments in social and economic context.
W. N. Medlicott, Bismarck and Modern Germany. A sensible,
clear and insightful short treatment of Bismarck, his career and his impact on
Germany. Since this book is out of print, it will be available in photocopied
Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest (1894).
A classic German novel set in the upper reaches of German society
(Hamburg, Pomerania, Berlin) at the end of the 19th century.
Written in the realist style. Very
sad. Good for studying the German
upper classes and for a late look at “good” Germany.
Michael Burns, France and the Dreyfus Affair: A
Documentary History. Good
brief, colorful and reasonably analytical account of the Dreyfus Affair with
many primary documents included.
You will receive dittoed handouts of additional material,
especially source materials (contemporary documents) and excerpts from recent
monographs. There may be some audiovisual materials (e.g., a selection of
Punch cartoons in the mid-l9th century).
The course will follow a lecture-discussion format. The
course is carefully structured, all appearances to the contrary. You will be
given specific reading assignments which you will be expected to complete on
time. As most of the learning will occur in class, I expect you to attend class
regularly, and even if you don’t participate frequently in discussions, you
should be “wrestling” with the material in some way.
To encourage student participation in class discussions, I
will divide the class into “discussion specialist” teams of two students. I
will assign specific topics and readings to the teams in the course of the
semester. You will not be expected to make presentations in class or lead class
discussions; but I expect the assigned specialists to have completed the
assigned reading, to be well-informed on the subject matter, to respond to
questions posed by the instructor, to provide additional insights and
alternative interpretations, to recount piquant stories about
historical personalities, etc.
There will be three exams spaced at roughly equal intervals
through the semester:
Exam #1 -- approximately Friday, September 29.
Exam #2 -- approximately Monday, November 6.
Exam #3 -- Monday, December 11, 10:15 am (this exam will not be comprehensive).
exam will consist of two parts:
-- Scantron test: 50+ questions taken
on a Scantron Form 882. The questions will be straightforward and based almost
entirely on material covered in class. You will receive numerous sample
questions to study before the test.
-- Essay: a take-home thought essay chosen
from a list of suggested questions distributed about two weeks before the exam.
You will be asked to analyze and interpret an historical issue discussed in
class. The essay should be about 1000 words. I prefer it typed; if you are
unable to type it, I will accept handwritten essays on one side of the page,
double-spaced, and neatly written. This essay will be due about a week after the
test. For further information on
these essays, consult the instruction sheet on “Thought Papers” that I will
You will thus have six grades, each of which will count
equally in the computation of your grade.
I consider attendance in class an extremely important part
of the learning process. I will take attendance most days. If your attendance
record is below about 85% (about 5 in 6), your final grade may be penalized. You
may lose from a fractional grade point (e.g., B to B-) up to a whole point
(e.g., C to D) for poor attendance.
(Approximate beginning dates in parentheses):
Europe before 1815
France from the Revolution to the Restoration Wright 41-83
-- in the late 18th century
-- Response to Napoleon Black, 47-90
France -- Political developments: the Restoration Wright, chs. 9 & 10
and the July Monarchy
Germany in Restoration and Vormärz Period Black, 91-137
The Revolutions of 1848
-- When France sneezes, Europe catches a cold.
Wright, ch. 11
Germany -- Was it a failure? Black 138-173
1848-1875 – “The Era of Liberalism” (September 25)
France -- Economy and Society Wright, chs. 13 & 14
Louis Napoleon’s Second Empire, 1852-70
Wright, ch. 12
Economy and Society (short)
The Crimean War – impact on Central Europe
Reaction (1850’s) and Unification (1862-71) under Bismarck: Black, 225-259
Prussia conquers Germany! Defeat Austria (1866) Medlicott, Part I
and then France (1870-71) (October 6) Wright, ch. 16
What is different about Europe after 1870? (October 23)
Economics (October 25)
France -- Economy: French economy “retard” Wright, chs. 21 & 22
-- Society: triumph of the
The German Economy —
burgeoning and high tech
The 1870’s and 1880’s
France — The founding and consolidation of the Wright, Ch. 18
Third Republic: its institutions. (November 1)
Germany Under Bismarck, 1871-1890. (November 6) Black, 259-69
Medlicott, Pt. II
Fontane, Effi Briest (November 13) Effi Briest
The Dreyfus Affair in France (1894-99) (November 20) Wright, chs. 19 & 20 The facts of the case; why? Burns, France and Its meaning – for France and for the world. Dreyfus Affair
Wilhelminian Germany, 1890-1918 (November 29)
Evolution of prewar German society Black, 400-441
Wilhelm II; was Germany in crisis in 1914?
The Coming of War – To what extent was Germany responsible Wright, ch. 24
for World War I? (December 6) Black, 441-460
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