fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Spring Quarter

Spring Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Apr 02
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Liberal Arts & Sciences

HIS 65 — Capitals of Cultural Ferment: Artists and Intellectuals in the Modern European City, 1750-1950

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 5—Jun 7
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 18
Units: 2
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Peter Mann
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Apr 5—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 18
2 Units
Peter Mann
Since the Enlightenment, intellectuals and artists have been agents of agitation during times of social ferment—as challengers of tradition, creators of new ideals and identities, pioneers of utopias, and restorers of imagined pasts. This course explores their role over the last two centuries and across five different European cities—Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Madrid, and Berlin—during dramatic moments of cultural transformation.

We will begin in Enlightenment Paris—the age of the philosophes, the salons, and the smut-filled print shops that paved the way for the coming revolution. Then on to 1860s St. Petersburg, site of a clash among the ideas of Romanticism, liberalism, and socialism, and home to the Russian nihilism depicted by Turgenev and Dostoyevsky. We proceed to the heady atmosphere of fin-de-siècle Vienna, taut with sexual and political tensions as expressed by the ideas of Freud as well as the paintings of Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka. Then on to Spain in the aftermath of 1898, following the loss of the Spanish-American War and the birth of the Silver Age of Spanish literature under Unamuno, Machado, Baroja, and Ortega y Gasset. It’s a bumpy ride across the trenches of World War I to the “voluptuous panic” of Weimar-era Berlin, teeming with the Expressionist films of Murnau and Lang, and the paintings of Max Beckmann and George Grosz. Finally, we arrive back in Paris at the end of World War II for the birth of Existentialism by Sartre, Beauvoir, and Camus, and the imagining of a new Europe from the ruins.

Peter Mann, Lecturer, Structured Liberal Education Program, Stanford

Peter Mann studies the intellectual history of modern Europe. He has published articles on the German writer Thomas Mann and the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, and is also an artist. He received a joint PhD in history and humanities from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality (ISBN 978-0-14-044439-1)
(Recommended) E.T.A. Hoffman, Tales of Hoffman (ISBN 0140443924)
(Required) Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (ISBN 978-0-14-044147-5)
(Recommended) Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (ISBN 978-0-679-73452-9)
(Recommended) Miguel de Unamuno, Abel Sanchez and Other Stories (ISBN 0-89526-707-1)
(Required) Sigmund Freud, Five Lectures on Pyscho-Analysis (ISBN 0-393-00847-9)
(Required) Joseph Roth, What I Saw: Reports from Berlin, 1920-1933 (ISBN 0-393-32582-2)
(Required) Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism (ISBN 0300115466)
(Recommended) Hugo von Hoffmansthal, The Lord Chandos Letter and Other Writings (ISBN 1-590-17-120-9)
(Recommended) Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays (ISBN 0300115466)