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European Studies

The core of what is most frequently termed “the West,” Europe is the parent culture for many Americans and the home of political ideas and forms of economic and social organization that have helped to shape the contemporary world. Peoples originating in Europe have proclaimed peace on earth as a religious ideal even as they created what has been seen as one of the most aggressive and expansive of the world’s civilizations. Admired, imitated, and reviled, Europe is the place where democracy and romantic love were invented; it is at the same time the birthplace of Adolf Hitler and the site of the Holocaust. Devastated in World War II and in retreat from its position of world preeminence, the European community has since made a remarkable recovery and may now offer new models of accommodating cultural difference within a productive economic framework and egalitarian political structure, as well as instances of ongoing ethnic conflict.

European studies is unified by a respect for the diversity and the achievements of the peoples of Europe and by the search for critical perspectives on their experiences which will enhance our understanding of human potentialities in the past and the present.


This concentration offers many avenues for exploring the richness of European civilization and history. Students might choose, for example, a group of courses that provide perspectives on Europe within a meaningful chronological segment (e.g., Europe since 1789); courses with a specific regional or national focus (e.g., Central and Eastern Europe, Italy); or courses that focus on particular aspects of cultural production (e.g., literature and the arts). Students are encouraged to enhance their appreciation of European culture and history by spending part of their junior year in Europe and by pursuing fluency in a European language at Simon’s Rock. For students interested in international relations, a junior year or semester at Franklin College in Switzerland--which offers courses on european history, politics and economics--is good option.

In consultation with the major advisor, the student constructs an interdisciplinary concentration consisting of 16 to 24 credits of appropriate courses such as those listed below. Two 300-level courses are required, and more than one discipline must be represented.


Art History 211 Picasso’s Art: Erotics and Politics
French 215 French Literature of Conversation
French 216 French Food, Culture, and Literature
French 217 Paris on the Page
French 321 Modern French Theater
French 325T 19th-Century Poetry
French 327 17th-Century French Literature
History 203 CP Russia from Medieval Times to the Eve of Revolution
History 204 CP Russia in the 20th Century and Beyond
History 205 CP Women in Western Civilization: Halos, Harlots, and Heroines
Linguistics 280 History of the English Language
Literature 221 Pilgrims, Sinners, and Yahoos: Major British Authors
Literature 222 Shakespeare
Literature 225 Modern Irish Literature
Literature 257 Modern Drama: From Realism to the Absurd
Literature 259 Writers from Eastern Europe
Literature 307 Sacred and Profane: Literature of 17th-Century England
Literature 319 The Theater of the Absurd
Music 202m Medieval Music
Music 203m Renaissance Music
Music 204m Earlier Baroque Music
Music 205m Later Baroque Music
Music 215m Haydn and Mozart
Music 216 Music of the Romantic Era
Philosophy 225 Existentialism

Recent Senior Theses

The range of possible topics for Senior Theses incorporating work in European studies is vast. Students are encouraged to develop a thesis proposal that draws on their experience in various disciplines, wherever possible. Students who spend time abroad frequently find this affords them insights or raises questions that become the starting point for the thesis. Recent theses in the field include:
“The Polish Identity through History”
“Italian Music of the Late Renaissance and Early Baroque and its Performance Practice for the Recorder”
“Great Britain and France: A Study of DeGaulle’s Foreign Policy”
“Amazons and Other Myths: A Study of Women in Russian Folklore”
“The Betrayal of Honour: French Theater of the 1700s”
“Worker’s Militias and Defense Guards: Autonomous Working-Class Military Action in the Historic Example of the Paris Commune of 1871”
“Scenes from the Dangerous Woman: Images of the Femme Fatale during Late 19th-Century Art–With a Personal Exhibit of Woman Redefined”
“‘A Work to Delight the Mind, Exercise the Intellect, and Relieve Anxiety’: The Fables of Avianus”
“A Wily Fox: A Study of Catherine de Medici through Machiavelli’s The Prince”
“Ti Si Nasa: Balkan Artistic Production in a Personal and Historical Context”


Asma Abbas, Gabriel Asfar, Karen Beaumont, Joan DelPlato, Peter Filkins, Hal Holladay, Bernard Rodgers, Mileta Roe, Maryann Tebben, Colette van Kerckvoorde, Laurence Wallach, Nancy Yanoshak
Faculty Contact: Maryann Tebben