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Comparative approach and the history of Europe

doc. PhDr. Luďa Klusáková, CSc. / Mgr. Jaroslav Ira


Description of the course

Comparative history of Europe offers to explore historical comparison as a tool of systematic analysis and interpretation of complex historical processes. The course aims at understanding modern European history and main factors of change employing comparative approach in various fields – sphere of identities, national movements, political institutions and processes, urbanization, social structures etc. The course combines lectures introducing essential theoretical concepts and examples of comparison in explaining history (M. Weber, M. Bloch, J. Kocka, H. Kaelble, M. Hroch, P. Anderson etc.) with case studies of crucial problems of European societies and their fundamental changes on their way to modernity. Programme and the basic reader will be specified according to linguistic skills of students.


  1. Introduction – Comparative approach in modern history of Europe, basic concepts and format of the course.
  2. Using comparison since the end of the 19th.century, transformation of comparative approach in the modern historiography, contemporary state of the discussions (M. Weber, M. Bloch, J. Kocka, M. Hroch, P. Anderson, A. Maczak and others).
  3. Europe and the world – formation of the region, its inner diversity, transnational challenges (H. Kaelble,: The European..).
  4. Early Modern Europe: Humanism, Popular and urban culture, Reformation and Recatholicisation (Peter Burke; Gudmundur Halfdanarson: Discrimination and Tolerance, Jaroslav Miller)
  5. Absolutism and Westphalian System. Modern states and transformations of sovereignty in the Modern Europe (Perry Anderson: Lineages of absolutist states…)
  6. Revolutions in Europe in the 18th. and 19th. Century – collective agency and transformation of values in the modern Revolutions. (Barington Moore: Social Origins)
  7. Nation building in the 19th century – states – nations and non-dominant ethnic groups. Social grammar of national movements. (Miroslav Hroch)
  8. European urbanisation – processes, agents, tendencies. (Peter Clark, Marjatta Hietala)
  9. Social structure in the 19th century – working classes, middle classes, aristocracy (Jürgen Kocka).
  10. Public spheres in the Modern Europe (either Eley, Kaelble, Imhof, Habermas).
  11. Construction of “national history” in contemporary Europe – Europeanization and national and regional diversity. (Malečková, Hroch)
  12. Regional and national history in European context. (Ellis – Esser, Hroch)
  13. Conclusion: Modern History of Europe in the comparative perspective. Possibilities and limits of the comparative approach. Cultural transfers, histoire croisée.

Target of the course

Display to students the strategies and possibilities of comparative approach, which helps historians and social scientists to clarify historical phenomena, their specificities, causalities, and contextualisation.

Examination requirements

6. ECTS - Active participation in the course, 3 absences acceptable. Evaluation: oral intervention during the course, midterm test – reflection of the course, final examination according to the rules of ECES takes into account the performance of the student during the semester and written essay reflecting the course through presentation of an example of application of comparative approach in history.

Type of course

Lectures combined with discussions based on reading of obligatory texts on Tuesdays. Participation of guests in discussions envisaged. Further development of themes and discussion of texts and their application on Wednesdays.


Course was designed for an Erasmus Mundus application of Master programme TEMA for students of History and Social Science. It is open to all ERASMUS and ECES students on both MA and BA levels. Very good knowledge of English required, other European languages are very welcomed.


Reader available in electronic format or in photocopies:

Perry ANDERSON: Lineages of Absolutist State, N.L.B. 1974

Peter CLARK (ed.): Small towns in early modern Europe, Cambridge 1995

Geoff ELEY: Nations, Publics, and Political Cultures: Placing Habermas in the Nineteenth Century. In Habermas and the Public Sphere, ed. by Craig Calhoun, p. 289-339. Cambridge, Masschusetts: The MIT Press, 1996.

Heinz-Gerhard HAUPT: European History as Comparative History, Ab Imperio, 1/2004, p. 111-125.

Gudmundur HALFDANARSON (ed.): Discrimination and Tolerance in Historical Perspective, Pisa 2008

Steven ELLIS – Raingard ESSER – Jean-François BERDAH (eds.): Frontiers, regions and identities in Europe, Pisa 2009

Miroslav HROCH: Comparative Studies in Modern European History. Nation, Nationalism, Social Change, Aldershot 2007.

Jürgen KOCKA: Comparison and Beyond, in History and Theory 42/2003

Jürgen KOCKA: The uses of comparative history in Societies made up of history, 1996

Marc Bloch aujourd´hui. Histoire comparée et sciences sociales. Paris: Éditions de l´EHESS 1990.

Hartmut KAELBLE: Der historische Vergleich. Eine Einführung zum 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt/New York 1999.

Hartmut KAELBLE: The European Public Sphere, in Max Weber Lecture Series 2007.

Luďa KLUSÁKOVÁ – Laure TEUILERES (eds.), Frontiers and Identities: Cities in regions and nations, Pisa 2008.

S.R. EPSTEIN (ed.), Town and Country in Europe, 1300-1800, Cambridge 2001

Jaroslav MILLER: Urban Societies in East-Central Europe, Ashgate 2008.

Barrington MOORE: Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy., Boston 1966

Cécil VIGOUR: La Comparaison dans les science sociales. Pratiques et méthodes, Paris 2005

Further literature according to specialisation and linguistic skills of students.

Poslední aktualizace: 2009-10-18 17:44

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