MALS/LBST 615 examines the origins and progress of European revolutions from the French Revolution of 1789 through the revolutions that swept across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-1991. Most assessments consider the 1789 French Revolution and the 1917 Russian Revolution to be watersheds in world history. If we think of change as the crucial element of history, then there is probably more history packed into revolution than any other kind of human activity. Revolutions are intensely politicized events and so, predictably, are their histories. Even today, one might judge the political persuasion of a person by their feelings about the French or Russian Revolutions. This does not mean that those who made or opposed revolution were not sincere in their beliefs, or that there is nothing to be learned from the study of revolution. Indeed, this course is especially based upon the following two propositions: that it is necessary to understand revolution in order to understand the modern world, and that we can make some sense of the world by comparing revolutions over time, space and culture. An important task for the class will be to ask what lessons or patterns the European revolutions offer us today.
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Reference books that may be useful in the study of European Revolutions
1) The Sense of the New: the Enlightenment and the French Revolution
2) A Continent Divided: Europe from Armageddon to Reconstruction, 1914-89