I just finished producing a first complete draft of 300-level German history course: “The Transformation of Germany, 1848-1933.”
After reading Antoinette Burton’s Primer for Teaching World History (my short review here), I began to think about the underlying narrative arc(s) and structure of undergraduate courses, especially how the start and end dates signify what type (and who’s) history you teach. At the same time, I was TAing a twentieth century German history course which neither began nor ended in the twentieth century. While listening to the lectures and my students’ comments, I wondered how could I produce a survey course on German history that wasn’t bound to centuries. What came up was a course that starts around 1848 (the Frankfurt Parliament is the first major-event we discuss) and ends in 1933 with the rise of Hitler—thus placing the unification of Germany, the imperial era, and the Weimar Repiblic within the same frame. This would help the students see lines of continuity across traditional breaking-points like 1871 and 1918.
Most weeks, I assign two documents from the German Historical Institute’s collections per lecture (4 per week), and one secondary source per week. I try to avoid using a single textbook for the entire course as a way to show the students the variety of approaches and views historians can take to German history, but most secondary readings come from a handful of works.
The PDF is available here.
I would love to get any comments or suggestions.