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HIS 125 — Great Cities: Capitals of Western History

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Sep 28—Nov 30
Time: 7:00—9:05 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 11
Units: 2
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Bruce Elliott
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 23
On-campus course
7:00—9:05 pm
Sep 28—Nov 30
9 weeks
Drop By
Oct 11
2 Units
Bruce Elliott
Please Note: No class on November 23
It can be said that for each major stage of Western history there was a capital city, a center from which power and high civilization radiated. A creative blend of history and humanities, this course will highlight the leading European capitals, examining the unique combination of factors—social, political, and cultural—that propelled each capital into its Golden Age.

Devoting each session to a single urban center, the course advances chronologically, beginning in Italy with Venice, jewel of medieval Europe, and Rome as the fountainhead of the High Renaissance. Moving into the Reformation era, we will contrast the might of Catholic Madrid in the Age of Exploration with the prosperity of Protestant Amsterdam, Europe’s 17th-century commercial wonder. For the creative ferment of the Enlightenment movement, we turn our focus to aristocratic Paris. Following the upheaval of the French Revolution, we will observe Habsburg Vienna holding firm as the bastion of tradition. We then proceed to Victorian London, catalyst for the Industrial Revolution and command post of the farflung British Empire. We will witness the emergence of Berlin as the epitome of 19th-century nationalism. Our journey culminates with New York City, chronicling its evolution into the first modern metropolis. Class sessions will feature extensive visuals, with artwork and architecture serving as primary sources.

Bruce Elliott, Independent Scholar

Bruce Elliott teaches courses in European history and culture at several lifelong-learning institutes in the Bay Area, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, Sonoma State, and Dominican University. He has focused much of his research on urban history, especially the distinct personalities of major cities and the pivotal role they’ve played as prime drivers for change. Elliott received a PhD in history from UC Berkeley.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.