REECAS Quarterly Course Lists
Spring 2021: HSTEU 276 Postwar: European History and Film after 1945
Meeting Time: MW 10:30 am – 12:20 pm
Joint Sections: N/A
Instructors: Jordanna Bailkin
How did Europeans attempt to come to terms with the aftermath and legacy of the Second World War? As they sought to rebuild their cities, laws, empires, economies, and social relations in the wake of the war, the place of Europe in the world seemed ever more fragile. In this course, we will explore efforts to reconstruct Europe and European identity after 1945, as well as assessing the successes and failures of these efforts. We will address the themes of poverty and affluence, postwar justice, Americanization, the expansion and collapse of communism, decolonization, migration, and ongoing ethnic tensions that threatened new forms of warfare.
Throughout this tumultuous period, film offered a powerful way for Europeans to rethink their identity. We will focus on films that illustrate how Europe tried to memorialize (and forget) the wartime past, and what arguments Europeans made about how they might build a new future. The course thus provides students with an opportunity to explore the historical uses of film, and to sharpen their skills of visual analysis, along with an overview of key themes in post-1945 European history.
Key texts are Primo Levi’s The Reawakening, Frantz Fanon’s A Dying Colonialism, and Slavenka Drakulic’s Cafe Europa: Life After Communism. Our films include Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero, Wolfgang Becker’s Goodbye, Lenin, and Quentin Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds. Assignments include midterm, final exam, and 7-8 page paper.