Netherlands, Maastricht

Europe since the Renaissance: The Making of a Continent and its Identity

when 25 July 2016 - 11 August 2016
duration 3 weeks
credits 6 ECTS
fee EUR 900

This course deals with one of the most fundamental questions concerning Europe: ‘Does Europe exist?’ The name ‘Europe’ cannot easily be defined since it may refer to a political, cultural or geographical entity. It becomes even more difficult, if not impossible, to ascribe a distinct identity to Europe. As a concept, ‘Europe’ has meant very different things to different groups of people. In order to argue that European identity is an ever-changing construction, this course will focus on decisive European common experiences that have fostered a sense of European identity. The Renaissance, Humanism, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution have provided the intellectual, philosophical and material ingredients to launch Europe into modernity. An Enlightened and industrialized Europe has boosted a sense of unique rationality, civilization and technological superiority that impacted Europe and the rest of the world in an unprecedented manner. Especially Europe’s notion of a ‘significant other’ and the relations with the non-Western world, mainly established through war, conquest and colonialism, have proven to be vital for shaping European identity. On the other hand, the before-mentioned modern features of European civilization showed their destructive ‘dark side’ during the first half of the 20th century culminating in WWII and the Holocaust. Related to this, the impact of an industrialized, rational and capitalist society on the European individual’s mind cannot be underestimated. It gives us a socio-psychological insight why Europe developed into this seemingly superior yet destructive continent in the 19th and 20th century. In order to fully understand the status and development of European identity in pre-modern times, the course starts with a brief flashback analysing the impact of the Roman Empire and Christianity on European identity. Finally, this module will make a jump to contemporary Europe to examine the impact of post-war European integration on European identity. As part of the course, students are asked to undertake one on-site historical investigation of their choice (details to be arranged). These projects require a trip to a designated museum, exhibit, famous or notorious structure and place, a battle site, or similar. For this project students will submit a prospectus, keep a journal, and write a report.

Course leader

Eric Rust

Target group

Introductory history or social science course. Basic knowledge of European geography, historical chronology and Western Civilization is useful.

Course aim

• Familiarity with the evolution of European identity since 1300 A.D. • Knowing the broad trajectory of European cultural history since the Renaissance • Acquaintance with landmarks of European modernization over past 700 years • Placing key individuals, ideas and events in their proper historical context • Acquiring a sense of Europe’s role in world affairs over the centuries

Credits info

Course fee only.

Fee info

EUR 900: Course fee only.


Not available.