Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


European Studies

Advisory Committee: Professors Barbezat*, Brandes†, Ciepiela*, Courtright, de la Carrera, Doran, Epstein, Griffiths, Katsaros, R. Lopez, Machala, Moricz, Rabinowitz, Raskin‡, Rockwell, Rogowski, Rosbottom, Sarat, Schneider†, R. Sinos, Staller, and Stavans; Associate Professors Boucher (Chair), Brenneis, Engelhardt, Gilpin, Nelson, van den Berg, and Wolfson; Assistant Professors Cho, Gordon, Infante, and Zanker*; Five College Associate Professor Long.

European Studies is a major program that provides opportunity for independent and interdisciplinary study of European culture. Through integrated work in the humanities and social sciences, the student major examines a significant portion of the European experience and seeks to define those elements that have given European culture its unity and distinctiveness.

Major Program. The core of the major consists of eight courses that will examine a significant portion of European civilization through a variety of disciplines. Two of these courses will be EUST 121 and 122 (or the equivalent; see below), and two will be independent work during the senior year. In the second semester of the senior year, the student major writing a thesis may designate the research course as a double course (EUST 499D), in which case the total number of courses required to complete the major becomes nine. Comparative literary studies, interdisciplinary work in history, sociology, philosophy, political science, economics, performance studies, visual arts, architecture or music involving one or more European countries are possible approaches for the student's required senior project.

Application to the major will be considered only after a student has taken at least one of EUST 121, 122, or an approved, similarly broad course in European history or culture. A second such required course will be taken during the sophomore year or as soon as the student elects a European Studies major. The student major will select four core courses in consultation with the Chair or major advisor. All majors shall complete a substantial course-based research project on some aspect of European culture by the end of their junior year. Prior arrangement for supervision must be made if a student intends to do this project while abroad.

Honors Program. All European Studies honors majors must complete a thesis. Should, during the senior year, the Program faculty decide that a declared major is not qualified to proceed to work on a thesis, the student may elect to do a substantial research project instead. Students may be recommended for Program honors only if they complete a thesis. Save in exceptional circumstances, a major will spend at least one semester of the junior year pursuing an approved course of study in Europe. All majors must give evidence of proficiency in one European language besides English, ideally one that is appropriate to their senior project. Upon return from study abroad, the student will ordinarily elect, in consultation with the Program Chair or major advisor, at least one course that helps integrate the European experience into the European Studies major.

*On leave 2018-19.
†On leave fall semester 2018-19.
‡On leave spring semester 2018-19.

101 Discovering Music: Listening Through History

(See MUSI 101)

112 Russian Empire in Eurasia

(See HIST 112)

117 Arthurian Literature

(See ENGL 117)

121 Readings in the European Tradition I

Topics in the past have included readings and discussion of a series of related texts from Homer and Genesis to Dante: Homer’s Iliad, selected Greek tragedies, Virgil’s Aeneid, selections from the Bible and from medieval texts. Three class hours per week. Required of European Studies majors. 

Open to European Studies majors and to any student interested in the intellectual and literary development of the West, from antiquity through the Middle Ages. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor R. Sinos.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

122 Readings in the European Tradition II

(Offered as EUST 122 and HIST 122[EU]) This course offers a critical examination of the concept of European civilization from the seventeenth century through the present day. What did it mean to be “European” in the modern era? To what extent was “European” civilization forged by Europe’s connections to the wider world, and by ideas, art, literature, and politics that originated outside the geographical boundaries of Europe? How was the idea of a coherent European culture and character used as a tool of conquest within the European empires? And how did various people—in Europe, in the empires, and beyond—forge new social, cultural, and political solidarities through their critiques of the idea of European civilization? Does the concept of European civilization remain valuable in our modern, globalized era? This course will combine a study of canonical works of European art, literature, and politics with less well-known texts and works of art created by “non-European” people. Required of European Studies majors.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Five College Assistant Professor A. Gordon.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2025

123 Europe in the Middle Ages

(See HIST 123)

124 Europe in Transition, 1350–1750

(See HIST 124)

130 World War I

(See HIST 130)

135 Art and Architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800

(See ARHA 135)

145 The Modern World

(See ARHA 145)

202 World War II in European Literature and Film

This course is designed to introduce students to the impact that World War II (1939–1945) had and continues to have on the society and culture of several European nations. As the last of the generation that lived during the war passes on, their grandchildren persist in raising questions about the reasons and effects of this political cataclysm. During the war, and afterwards with more or less intensity, writers and filmmakers made and have made attempts to analyze and represent the memories, the guilt, and the false histories that the war left behind in every involved nation.

The course will examine the ethics of historical memory, the sincerity of representation, the clever use of history for political purposes. It will also probe and analyze persistent myths of the war as well as discover stories and facts that have been ignored or forgotten. Finally, the course will look at alternative scenarios, that is, “what if” narratives.

Readings might include works by Erich Remarque, Albert Camus, Irène Némirovsky, W. G. Sebald, Primo Levi, and Tony Judt. Films might include selections from Rossellini’s Roma città aperta, Holland’s Europa, Europa, Reed’s The Third Man, and Malle’s Au revoir les enfants.

The class will study how nations too have attempted to make sense of this hecatomb, seeking explanation, expiation, and often excuses. We will also study how the Second World War’s legacy still affects contemporary European culture and politics.

Students will be expected to participate in discussion, give oral reports, and write a research paper.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2018-19. Professor Rosbottom.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Fall 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

203 Cityscapes: Imagining the European City

(See ARCH 203)

216 Creativity and Revolution

(See RUSS 216)

220 Art, Politics, and Propaganda in Modern Europe

(See HIST 220)

221 Music and Culture I

(See MUSI 221)

222 Music and Culture II

(See MUSI 222)

223 Music and Culture III

(See MUSI 223)

224 The Century of Sex: Gender and Sexual Politics in Modern Europe

(See HIST 224)

225 The Age of Chivalry, 1000–1500

(See HIST 225)

226 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(See HIST 226)

230 The French Revolution

(See HIST 230)

233 Love

(Offered as SPAN 384 and EUST 233) This panoramic, interdisciplinary course will explore the concept of love as it changes epoch to epoch and culture to culture. Poetry, novels, paintings, sculptures, movies, TV, and music will be featured. Starting with the Song of Songs, it will include discussions of Plato, Aristotle, Catullus, and other Greek classics, move on to Dante and Petrarch, contemplate Chinese, Arabic, African, and Mesoamerican literatures, devote a central unit to Shakespeare, continue with the Metaphysical poets, and move on to American literature. Special attention will be paid to the difference between love, eroticism, and pornography. Multilingual students will be encouraged to delve into various linguistic traditions, in tongues like French, Russian, German, Yiddish, and Spanish. Conducted in English.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2018-19. Professor Stavans.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2022, Fall 2024

234 Nazi Germany

(See HIST 234)

235 Impostors

An interdisciplinary exploration of the causes behind the social, racial, artistic, and political act—and art—of posing, passing, or pretending to be someone else. Blacks passing for whites, Jews passing for gentiles, and women passing for men, and vice versa, are a central motif. Attention is given to biological and scientific patterns such as memory loss, mental illness, and plastic surgery, and to literary strategies like irony. As a supernatural occurrence, the discussion includes mystical experiences, ghost stories, and séance sessions. The course also covers instances pertaining to institutional religion, from prophesy from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles to the Koran and Mormonism. In technology and communications, analysis concentrates on the invention of the telegraph, the telephone, and the Internet. Entertainment, ventriloquism, puppet shows, voice-overs, children’s cartoon shows, subtitles, and dubbing in movies and TV are topics of analysis. Posers in Greek mythology, the Arabian Nights, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Jorge Luis Borges, Philip Roth, Oliver Sacks, and Nella Larsen are examined. Conducted in English.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2018-19. Professor Stavans.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2018, Fall 2021, Spring 2025

236 The Bible as Literature

A close reading of significant portions of the Five Books of Moses, done from the perspective of literature: how are the human and divine characters built, what interior life do they display and what philosophical view do they convey?  Attention will be given to the nineteenth-century theories that approach the Bible as a composite book delivering a nationalistic story. Students will also reflect on the impact of the Bible in Western literature, from Dante’s Divine Comedy to R. Crumb’s cartoon retelling of Genesis. Taught in English.

Spring semester. Professor Stavans.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2019

238 Soviet Union During the Cold War

(See HIST 236)

240 The Last Russian Revolution: State and Society from the Late Soviet Period to the Present

(See HIST 240)

245 Stalin and Stalinism

(See HIST 235)

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(See ARHA 258)

259 Shakespeare in Prison

Taught at the Hampshire County Jail, the course is devoted to close readings and staging of parts of Shakespeare’s plays while exploring in depth his historical context, dramatic and stylistic style, and world view. The topics of bondage, revenge, injustice, and forgiveness will serve as leitmotifs. In Spring 2018, four plays were the focus: As You Like It, Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest. Conducted in English.

Omitted 2018-19. Professor Stavans.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

284 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(See ARHA 284)

294 Black Europe

(See BLST 294)

303 Literature as Translation

(Offered as EUST 303 and ENGL 320) Acts of translation underwrite many kinds of cultural production, often invisibly. Writers of the Harlem Renaissance, for instance, engaged with black internationalism through bilingualism and translation, as Brent Edwards has reminded us. In this course we will study literary translation as a creative practice involved in the making of subjects and cultures. We will read key statements about translation by theorists and translators, such as Walter Benjamin, Roman Jakobson, Lawrence Venuti, Peter Cole and Gayatri Spivak. We also will directly engage in translation work: each student will regularly present translations in a workshop format to produce a portfolio as a final project. The class will be “polyglot,” meaning that students are welcome to translate from any language of which they have knowledge; when they share translations, they will be asked also to provide interlinear, or “literal,” translations for those who may not understand the language they are working in.

Requisite: two years of college-level study of the chosen language. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2018-19. Professor Ciepiela.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

317 Women in Early Modern Spain

(See SPAN 317)

327 The History and Rhetoric of the European New Right

(See HIST 327)

329 A Price for Everything: Making of a Market Society

(See HIST 339)

330 Race and Otherness in the Middle Ages

(See ENGL 330)

335 European Migrations

(See HIST 335)

356 Baroque Art in Italy, France, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands

(See ARHA 356)

360 Performance

(See GERM 360)

363 Traumatic Events 

(See GERM 363)

364 Architectures of Disappearance

(See GERM 364)

365 Making Memorials

(See GERM 365)

369 TIME

(See ARCH 369)

374 Medieval and Renaissance Lyric

(See ENGL 441)

385 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(See ARHA 385)

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2024

425 European Economic Take-Off in Global Perspective, c. 1050–1750

(See HIST 425)

432 Gender, Class, and Crime: The Victorian Underworld

(See HIST 432)

452 The Earthly Paradise

(See ARHA 452)

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Non-Language Courses


(See GERM 368)

Related Courses

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