The Habsburg Empire, 1526-1918
First Semester, 2004-2005
This course is designed to
introduce students who have some familiarity with the outline of European
events during the past 500 years to the history of the complex entity
conventionally called – for want of a better term – the Habsburg Empire. It is the central European realm governed
Having said all that (and
having, I hope, piqued your curiosity), I need to note immediately that, in
more ways than is customary, this course is shaped by the kinds of readings
that are (or, more accurately, are not) readily available in paperback. It’s
true that I’m not unhappy with the full attention that political history gets
in this syllabus. I love political
history, and it is as fascinating when it occurs in
I’m deliberately varying formats as the semester proceeds. We’ll see two operas on film on Sunday evenings. (By way of compensation, I’ll drop sessions in the preceding weeks and assign no reading for those weeks either. But attendance at the films is obligatory.) In the week of November 9-11 we’ll run a model Constitutional Convention. (More on that later.) I will take attendance, and I expect students to attend all sessions of the class, which is why it’s important that you confirm before joining the class that you will be able to attend the two Sunday evening operas. Non-attendance (without a dean’s excuse) on one of the Sunday opera evenings will result in a lowering of the grade in course by one full step (e.g., B+ to C+).
I think that the course, though still somewhat experimental, will be much fun. It’s a subject I love, and since I’ve taught it on two earlier occasions, it’s not completely uncharted territory.
Books to be purchased:
Paula Sutter Fichtner, The Habsburg Empire: From Dynasticism to Multinationalism
Charles Ingrao, The Habsburg Empire, 16218-1815
Andrew Morton, A Nervous Splendor
Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March
Getting the Course Launched:
August 28: Organizational meeting
Unit 1 - The Turkish Challenge: The Defense of Christendom, 1526-1606
August 31: Getting organized; then the Rise of the Habsburgs [instructor]
September 2: Discussion – 500-word biography of Charles V due
Unit 2 - The Protestant Challenge: The Defense of Catholicism, 1526-1648
September 7: Reports on:
September 9: Discussion
First Interlude -A Tour of the Habsburg Lands, in Pictures, Maps, and Reports
No reading assignment
September 14: Surveying the realm [instructor]
September 16: Reports on several historical regions
Unit 3 - The Great Power Challenge: The Age of Heroes (Heldenzeitalter), 1648-1739
September 21: Reports on:
September 23: Discussion
Second Interlude - Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)
No reading assignment
September 28: no class
September 30: Lecture and discussion: What is opera? [instructor]
October 3 (Sunday): Viewing of Die Zauberflöte
Unit 4 -The Modernization Challenge: Enlightened Absolutism, 1740-92
October 5: Reports on:
Gottfried van Swieten
October 7: Discussion
Unit 5 - The Revolutionary Challenge, 1792-1815
Paula Sutter Fichtner, The Habsburg Empire, 14-26
October 12: October Break
October 14: Discussion
Unit 6 - The German Challenge: Grosses oder Kleines Deutschland?, 1815-66
October 19: Reports on:
The cuisines of the Habsburg Empire
What is Biedermeier?
October 21: Discussion
Unit 7 - The Hungarian Challenge: Ausgleich, 1866-1914
Andrew Morton, A Nervous Splendor
October 26: Reports on:
The Hungarian language
October 28: Discussion
Third Interlude - Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (The Bat)
No reading assignment
November 2: no class
November 4: no class
November 7: (Sunday): Viewing of Die Fledermaus
Fourth Interlude - Counterfactualism: the Constitutional Challenge
No reading assignment
November 9: The Constitutional Convention, Part I
November 11: The Constitutional Convention, Part II
Unit 8 - The Cultural Challenge: Viennese Modernism I
November 16: 5-10 minute reports on:
Hugo von Hofmansthal
November 18: Discussion
Unit 9 - The Cultural Challenge: Viennese Modernism II
November 30: Sampling the art and music of Modernist Vienna [instructor]
December 2: Discussion
****December 3 [Friday] Research Essay due****
Unit 10 - The Invincible Challenge: Nationalism in the Great War, 1914-1918
December 7: Reports on:
The Habsburgs since 1918
December 9: Discussion
December 14: Reports on recent events in three successor states:
Please keep the following points in mind:
1. The research essay is due on Friday, December 3. The subject of the essay is finally your choice, but I urge you to consult with me before launching work upon it. You may submit either a traditional term essay or a non-traditional paper (e.g., a short story or a play script, grounded in a good understanding of the subject/period/person you are focusing on). I do not grant unpenalized extensions, except when the request for an extension is supported by a dean.
2. Each member of the class will give at least one oral report this semester. It is imperative for the success of the course that you be prepared to present your special reports on the days they are scheduled. They should not exceed 15 minutes in length, and on November 16 they should be shorter still. Additional time for Q&A will follow. Please have a handout prepared for your report – something (an outline, a map, a chart, anything that might help in visualizing your subject) that class members can add to their portfolios (see point 5 below). Some of you may choose to give a second oral report; if you do, it counts for extra credit.
3. All students will hand in a brief (500-word) biography of Charles V on September 2. The essay should briefly provide life information about this important ruler but be chiefly concerned with identifying the central achievements/problems/interests of the reign of his reign.
On two occasions students will
provide accounts and analyses of what is happening now (in 2004) in three
5. I will regularly take attendance, and your attendance record is an aspect of my judgment of your contribution to the element of the grade (see point 5 below) that is comprehended by “informed participation in discussion.” In particular, please note that attendance at the opera videos (October 3 and November 7: both are Sundays) is required absence will result in a reduction of course grade. Therefore, be sure you have the two Sunday nights on which the videos will be shown free from other responsibilities.
6. I do not believe that it makes much sense to have a traditional final exam in this course. Instead, as the semester proceeds I’ll ask each student to assemble a portfolio of materials related to the course. Elements of this portfolio should include: 1) the course syllabus; 2) notes taken on various class discussions and lectures; 3) notes taken on reports; 4) handouts supplied by reporters; 5) handouts from the instructor; 6) any other sheets I may distribute in class or via e-mail; 7) other items that may catch your attention over the next four months (e.g., newspaper articles, book reviews, etc -- You should be looking for them throughout the semester). When the course is over, I’ll ask you to submit the portfolios to me so that I can assess them. They should be well organized. I’ll pay particular attention to the notes you’ve taken and, in general, look for evidence that you’ve been attentive to the various components of the course. I’ll then return the portfolios, with the hope that they will be useful to you in future years as a reference point for triggering further interest in the history of the former Habsburg lands.
7. The course grade will be determined by the following formula:
Biography essay (Charles V) 15%
One in-class report 15%
Informed participation in discussions 20%
Research essay 25%
8. If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your ability to carry out assigned course work, I would urge that you contact the Office of Disability Services at 5453. The Coordinator of Disability Services, Erin Salva (email@example.com), will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are appropriate. All information and documentation of disability is confidential.
9. My regular office hours will be from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If those are not convenient, we can schedule a meeting for a time that better suits your schedule. My office is Seitz 9. (It’s on the second floor.) My office phone is 5642. My home phone is 427-3155.
10. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I tend to leave my e-mail open, so I’m readily reachable. The registrar will set up a distribution list for the class that we can all use for the sharing of ideas about the course and readings. It is your responsibility to keep your account active.
11. I do not tolerate plagiarism. It is the most serious infringement of trust and comity in an academic community. Please consult the Student Handbook for a discussion of it. If you have questions about it, please feel free to come see me with them.
12. I encourage the use of foreign languages in student research work. I realize that few students will be proficient in reading Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, or Swedish, or any of the more exotic languages of the Habsburg realm, and so I’ll be pleased to make significant adjustments in expectations if anyone wants to try to do some of the reading for the research essay in a language other than English. I will also accept term essays written in Dutch, French, German, Italian, or Spanish, if you would like to push yourself by writing in a language other than English. (I should add that I’ll be grading such papers for content, not for grammar.)