Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


European Studies

Advisory Committee: Professors Barbezat, Brenneis*, Ciepiela, Courtright, de la Carrera, Engelhardt, Epstein, Griffiths, Katsaros, R. López*, Machala, Móricz, Nelson, Rockwell, Rogowski, Sarat, Schneider, Sinos, R., Staller, Stavans*, and van den Berg; Associate Professors Boucher, Gilpin, Gordon, Infante, Polk, and Wolfson; Assistant Professors Paul and Zanker. 

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).  All majors must give evidence of proficiency in one European language besides English. Save in exceptional circumstances, majors will spend at least one semester of the junior year pursuing an approved course of study in Europe. By the end of their junior year, all majors shall complete a substantial course-based research project on some aspect of European culture. Prior arrangement for supervision must be made if a student intends to do this project while abroad. For their senior year, European Studies majors will then opt into one of two possible paths: Thesis or Capstone. 

Thesis Option. Students wishing to pursue an independent project as an honors thesis will take one thesis research course in the first semester of the senior year, and another in the final semester. Students may designate the research course of the final semester as a double course (EUST 499D), in which case the total number of courses required to complete the major becomes nine.

Possible approaches for the senior thesis project include 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. Students are encouraged to take a relevant methods class fitting their research approach (such as HIST-301 or SOCI-315), which, with permission from the EUST chair may count toward the major’s eight courses. 

Capstone Option. In the capstone option students, after having completed a substantial course-based research project on some aspect of European culture, will complete their eight European Studies courses without an independent project. A month into their final semester, capstone majors will submit a five-page retrospective essay on the entirety of the course of their studies in the major, which will be followed by a conversation with the European Studies faculty members. 

Honors Program.  Students may be recommended for Program honors only if they complete a thesis.

*On leave 2023-24.†On leave fall semester 2023-24.‡On leave spring semester 2023-24. 

121 Readings in the European Tradition I

(Offered as ENGL- 123 and EUST-121) Over a thousand years ago, a group of peoples began to form themselves into what we now call “Europe,” a geopolitical space that identifies itself as a shared culture. This course reads classic texts from the European tradition in order to study some of the most influential works of Western culture as well as to interrogate and critique the foundations of an idea of the European tradition. We will put philosophy and literature from antiquity and the Middle Ages in dialogue with selected scholarship on the formation of European culture. Readings include selections from Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Augustine’s Confessions, Boethius’ Consolations of PhilosophyThe Romance of the Rose, Dante’s Divine Comedy, William Langland’s Piers Plowman, and more.  

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 Nelson.

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/TC/TE]) Readings in European Traditions II will provide an overview of major historical developments in modern European history, including the development of the modern state and society, the transformation of early modern political and social structures under the impact of modern ideologies, revolutions and mass politics, the emergence of nation-states in imperial contexts, the contested definition of boundaries of Europeanness. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Semyonov.

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

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.

January term. Professor Rosbottom. 

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

217 Fictions of America

(See GERM 222)

219 Kafka and Nietzsche

(See GERM 220)

221 Voices from a Bygone Time

(See MUSI 221)

245 Stalin and Stalinism

(See HIST 235)

247 Utopia

"Utopia," in Latin, means there is no such place. The course is a broad exploration, across time, space, cultures, and languages, of the quest for no-such-place, at times understood as a return in time, or to our origins, or an alternate reality (Paradise, Arcadia, Datong, Ketumati, etc.) Sources include the Hebrew Bible, Christianity, medieval Muslim philosophy, Buddhism, the Enlightenment, Capitalist, Communism, millenarianism, Feminism, science and technology, religious fundamentalism, racial purism, and political cults. Class discussions will rotate around the Mayan book Popol Vuh, More’s Utopia, Montaigne, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, false messiahs, Marx and Engle’s Communist Manifesto, Herzl’s The Jewish State, Soviet propaganda, Huxley’s Brave New World, as well as around Fidel Castro’s Cuba, North Korea, Disneyland, shopping malls, social media, green politics, and SF. Multilingual students will be encouraged to delve into various linguistic traditions, in tongues like French, Russian, German, Yiddish, Esperanto, and Spanish. Students will engage in creative-writing meditations. Conducted in English.

Limited to 30 students. Omit 2023-24. Professor Stavans.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

285 Roma Redux: The Eternal City Across Time

(See CLAS 285)

314 The People's Tongue

Listed as EUST-314 and COLQ-

How has the English language become American? Do native speakers own the language? Is there an authority that legislates over it? What are the mechanisms whereby words, grammar, and syntax become accepted or rejected? The course will be an in-depth exploration of the origins and development of language in a national and global context. Students will interrogate--orally and through creative writing assignments--their own usage and those of their ancestors, contemporaries, and successors. We will analyze the role dictionaries play, the politics of language, the influence of popular culture, and especially music, TV, and poetry. Immigrant languages, sign language, translation, slam poetry, Netflix series, children's books, and podcasts will also be analyzed. Authors featured include Noah Webster, Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Sojourner Truth, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, H.L. Mencken, Lucille Ball, Richard Pryor, Dr. Seuss, James Baldwin, Louise Erdrich, Billie Holiday, Henry Roth, Amy Tan, David Foster Wallace, Barack Obama, Kendrick Lamar, and Donald J. Trump. The course will include a Point/Counterpoint component, meaning that it will look at language from the perspective of the ideological divide fracturing America today. There will be a thematically-connected lecture series through which luminaries of all kinds--national and international politicians, major artists, activists, newscasters, opinion makers, and so on--will come to campus and to our class.

Limit: 30 students. Spring Semester. Professor Stavans

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

318 Imaginary Beings (Angels & Ghosts) (Practice of Art)

(See ARHA 317)

323 Trial and Error: An Interdisciplinary Experiment with Montaigne's Essais

(See FREN 323)

369 TIME

(See ARCH 369)

443 Racism and Risk in Postwar Britain

(See HIST 443)

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

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