HST2509: Empires and revolutions in continental Europe, 1905-1923

20 credits (semester 2)

Module Leader: Dr Dina Gusejnova

Module Summary

This module explores the disintegration of Europe's continental empires from the 1900s to the early 1920s. The aim is to proceed from a comparative perspective of national and regional revolutionary processes to an understanding of the transnational and transimperial connections underlying the forms of agency and identity in this period.

Most models of modern revolutions are drawn from narratives associated with the French Revolution of 1789-93 and the Russian Revolution of 1917. However, much of this narrative is centred on nations and states, which gives an incomplete understanding of the implications resulting from the collapse of multi-ethnic empires such as Russia, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Engaging with the complexity of various ideas of ‘self-determination’ on the ruins of these empires, students in this class will grasp the emergence of new institutional and cultural forms of political identification as a gradual and conflicted process in which state building and national identity were only two among many forms of political aspiration.

In addition to giving more people citizenship of new states, the vanishing empires left an unprecedented number of Europeans bereft of political representation. Looking at key moments of disintegration in terms of agency as well as representation, you will be able to trace the emergence of new forms of political imagination, from national democracies and republics to international socialism and fascism. You will concentrate on social and biographical boundary crossing in a revolutionary epoch, drawing attention to the presence of past ideas of revolutions in a decade of transition. While the examinations will concentrate on the case studies covered in lectures, you will be encouraged to use your independent research time to explore case studies of their own choice within the structure offered by the course.


To follow.

Teaching and Assessment

The module will be assessed in part by a 2,500 word essay based largely on secondary sources, which will allow you to advance your understanding of aspects of the module in more detail, to develop skills of analysis and argument, and to improve their writing. Formative feedback will offer advice on how to improve for the forthcoming summative assessment. A written examination will require you to demonstrate that they have absorbed and understood the material and that they can express this in clear prose and a structured argument.

Information on assessment can be found at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2

Suggested Reading

  • Atlas: Paul R. Magocsi, Historical Atlas of Central Europe, 2nd ed. (Seattle, 2002)
  • John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, vol. 2, 3rd edition (New York: Norton, 2009)
  • Jürgen Osterhammel, The Transformation of the World, transl. Patrick Camiller (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), esp. pp. 392-461 on Imperial systems.
  • Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979)

Intended Learning Outcomes
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