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Post-war Europe. Ideas, Ideologies and Practices of Rebuilding a Devastated Land, 1945-1955


Admission requirements



Since 1989, with the end of the Cold War, the decade following the Second World War has become particularly interesting to historians. They have been concerned with the question how Europe could rebuild itself so successfully after having experienced two world wars on her own soil. European reconstruction agendas and policies are of primary concern to this course. Questions surrounding the reconstruction of material life, as well as aspects of the political, economic, social and psychological reconfiguration of European states, and the idea of Europe itself are on the agenda of this course. The students are required to write a paper, give a presentation of their individual research project, and will be asked to provide a short contextualization of the films that we will watch in the third part of this seminar. Depending upon the number of attendees this may become a group assignment.
This course consists of three parts:

  • extensive debate based upon the literature on post-war Europe;

  • discussing a serie of case studies, covering both Western and Eastern Europe, considering national post-war experiences in their different Cold War dynamics

  • viewing early post-war films and analyzing those films together
    Students will gain a broad understanding of Europe’s and European countries’ post-war history.Their individual projects will be based upon primary source materials in which they will trace the way in which the post-war reconstruction was conceptualized. Were those conceptualizations embedded in international or national discourse? What kind of symbols and perceptions dominated in those conceptualizations? Did post-war reconstruction fit into the re-emergence of strong international or national identities?

Course objectives

The student will gain insight and knowledge into:

  • The social, cultural and political history of the early post-war era in Europe

  • The historicity of the concept ‘reconstruction’

  • The international context of the ‘reconstruction’ processes in both Eastern and Western European countries

  • The relationship between national identity, transitional justice and ‘reconstruction’ as conceptualized in public debates and contemporary film

  • Knowledge and comprehension of discourse analysis

  • The ability to independently identify and select sources

  • The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question

  • The ability to analyze and evaluate literature and sources for the purpose of producing an original scholarly argument

  • The ability to interpret a corpus of sources

  • Knowledge and comprehension of Political Culture and National Identities specialization and its historiography: symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1945 until 1955;

  • Knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation, Political Culture and National Identities : international comparison and transfer; a cultural-historical approach of politics and a political-historical approach of culture; interdisciplinary analysis of political argumentation and rhetoric.

Extra course objectives for Res Master Students:

  • The ability to interpret a potentially complex corpus of sources

  • The ability to identify new approaches within existing academic debates

  • Knowledge of the interdisciplinary aspects of the specialisation


View Timetable History

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

A total of 280 hours :

  • 28 hours for class attendance.

  • 62 hours for reading assignments.

  • 5 hours preparing presentation

  • 5 hours preparing contextualization of film

  • 180 hours for writing a paper.

Assessment method

  • A paper demonstrating the following skills:
    • The ability to independently identify and select literature
    • The ability to give a clear written report on the research results in English or Dutch
    • The ability to engage with constructive academic feedback
    • The ability to independently set up a primary source-driven research
    • for ResMa students: the ability to analyze a relevant body of literature and identify the blank spots, taking those blank spots (in terms of types of sources used and types of questions gone unnoticed) for the research strategy, directed at contributing to the academic debate on post-war European history

These skills will be assessed by intermittent assignments (research outline; processing feedback on research outline; bibliographical assignment; archival assignment).

  • A presentation and participiation in class discussions, demonstrating the following skills:
    • the ability to give a clear oral report on the research results in English or Dutch
    • the ability to provide constructive academic feedback
    • for ResMa students: a meta-analysis of the class discussions

These skills will be assessed on the spot, during the seminars.

  • 60%: paper

  • 20%: presentation, abstract

  • 10%: participation

  • 10%: film contextualization assignment

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average. Papers need to be at least 5,5 in order for students to pass this course.


Blackboard is used for this course:

  • Announcements

  • Sharing data

  • Discussing research progress

Reading list

  • Tony Judt, Postwar: a History of Europe Since 1945 (Heinemann, 2005)

  • Other literature distributed through BlackBoard


via uSis


Mw. Dr. A.C.M. (Anna) Tijsseling


Office hours: schedule an appointment