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The Rise of Nations and Nationalism in Europe, 1789-1918

Tutor: Jasper Heinzen

Module type: Period Topic

Module code: HIS00058C

The nineteenth century is often called the ‘age of nationalism’. Between 1789 and 1918 most of the states found on today’s map of Europe came into being by revolution, secession or war. This course will explore the reasons for the shift from a Europe dominated by composite monarchies and multi-ethnic empires to nation-states, and asks how the proliferation of nationalism transformed societies along the way. Focusing especially on the dramatic ruptures that accompanied the emergence of nation-states, the module will compare similarities as well as differences in the way nations came about, the criteria applied to define nationhood, the actors behind the national project, and the governing systems adopted to rule nations. In this context we will consider themes such as the new discourse of citizenship introduced by the French Revolution, the interplay between ethnic and civic markers of identity, national mobilisation ‘from below’ compared to ‘above’, and the simultaneous processes of nation building and globalisation.

Seminars will cover a broad range of theoretical texts, country studies, and contemporary evidence from the nineteenth century. In so doing, we will explore a wide selection of textual and audio-visual source material.

Seminar topics may include:

    • The origins of nations
    • Eastern and Western Europe: exemplars of ethnic and civic nationalism respectively?
    • Modern concepts of citizenship
    • Unitary and federal nations
    • Socialising institutions of the nation
    • The modern nation, an invented tradition? Uses and abuses of the past in the service of nation-building
    • Nationalism and modernisation
    • Nations and their ‘others’: dealing with minorities and dissent

To find out more

You might like to look at the following:

    • Bayly, C. A. The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
    • Hutchinson, John, and Anthony D. Smith, eds. Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.


For more information, please visit the module catalogue.