HIS 4245: A History of European Socialism
The European Origins of Socialist Thought, 1789-1917
Professor Steven Kreis
Florida Atlantic University, Davie
COURSE OUTLINE: Of all the political or social revolutions of the 20th century none were as significant as the Russian Revolution of 1917. Although the Bolshevik Revolution had specifically Russian roots, it was the European socialist tradition which served as its ideological foundation. This course will trace the European ideas of socialism and communism from their origins in the streets of revolutionary Paris in the 1790s to the execution of these ideas at the Winter Palace in Petrograd in 1917. The general theme of the course is the 19th century socialist tradition and particular emphasis is laid upon the works of Marx and Engels. You will leave this course with a better grasp of the French and Russian Revolutions, and revolutions in general. Finally, within the context of these revolutions, you will learn how and why socialism and communism made their appearance. There are no stated prerequisites for this course although the instructor hopes that at the very least, you have a sound understanding of the parameters of 19th century European history.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Attendance and informed participation at all class meetings is not only strongly recommended, but required. This means that you (1) show up to class on a regular basis and (2) complete your reading and written assignments on time. The entire success of the course, both from my standpoint and, more importantly, from yours, is that you get involved, get interested and get motivated to study an intellectual and political event whose history has been of such extreme importance in the 20th century. Keep the following statement in mind for the duration of the semester and you should do just fine: EDUCATION IS NOTHING MORE THAN DIALOGUE AND, ACCORDING TO THE MASTER OF DIALOGUE, SOCRATES, GOOD DIALOGUE OUGHT TO IMPROVE BOTH INSTRUCTOR AND STUDENT. When all is said and done, the primary task of this course is to challenge you to think and discuss your ideas freely and openly. There are no wrong answers!!!
A NOTE ON THE TEXTS: I have tried to keep the number of books down to a minimum for two reasons. The first is cost. The second is the amount of reading per week. You will find some of the reading--as most of it is philosophy by any other name--to be rather terse and at times incomprehensible. But, if you take the topic seriously enough, and if I can succeed in engaging your attention thoroughly, you will find the reading less daunting. Bruenig's The Age of Revolution and Reaction is intended as a general introduction to the era of the French Revolution and its influence on the political, economic and intellectual history of the first half of the 19th century. We will spend the bulk of our time between the red covers--how appropriate--of Tucker's excellent compendium, The Marx-Engels Reader. Although we will not read the entire contents of this book, more than half of the course will be devoted to it. Fitzpatrick's The Russian Revolution is a short, very readable account of the Bolshevik Revolution. This last volume will put the rest of the course into greater perspective. What, after all, is theory without practice?
GRADING: I will assign two or three take home
examinations during the course of the semester. These
will be essay-type exams which will ask you to comment
and reflect upon topics we have dealt with in class.
These exams will be announced in advance and you will
have one week to complete them. For those of you
interested in submitting a research paper in lieu of the
exams, please see me as soon as possible to discuss your
somewhat different requirements. Your final grade is
based upon two variables: (1) your performance on the
exams or research essay and (2) the level of your
participation in class. At least 15% of your final grade
will be determined by this last variable.
THE CLASS: My conduct in this class, as you will soon see, is based on a genuine respect for the intellect of the student. My approach is informal and at times, irreverent. Just the same, I take my work very seriously and I expect you to do so as well. If you show up late for class I expect you to enter the room as discreetly as possible. If you miss any class it is your responsibility to make sure that you make up for lost ground. I have found that a format of lecture AND discussion works to the advantage of everyone involved, including myself. If you are not prepared to at least think about our subject, then I suggest you will have a tough time overall. In other words, come to class prepared to learn and discuss new ideas, and above all, THINK!
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copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis