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Modern European History

Subject Group

Convenor : Professor Chris Clark

Web Officer : Dr Arthur Asseraf

The Modern European History Subject Group brings together historians of the European continent broadly conceived from the mid-eighteenth century to the twenty-first. Membership of the subject group reflects a wide range of interests from the Caucasus to Portugal, from the history of food to that of women’s wages.

Cambridge has a long and vibrant tradition of researching and teaching European History. Lord Acton, Regius Professor of Modern History just over a hundred years ago, was famously well versed in the history of France, Germany and Italy, while the first major work published by G. M. Trevelyan, probably the best-known English historian of the first half of the twentieth century, was a three-volume study of Garibaldi and the unification of Italy. In more recent times, E. H. Carr made a major contribution to the history of Soviet Russia, while H. Temperley and F. H. Hinsley were leading figures in the study of European diplomatic relations. More recently, the current Regius Professor, Sir Professor Chris Clark, and his predecessor Sir Richard Evans have been specialists of modern German and European history.

Members of the group share a commitment to looking at European history beyond national boundaries, which is reflected in our teaching. The undergraduate papers on Europe 1715-1890 and 1890-present are amongst the most popular in Part I of the Historical Tripos. The group is also committed to teaching using primary sources in the original languages, with Themes and Sources Options for first-years in French (on the Algerian War) and in German (on post-war memory). There is a wide range of more advanced undergraduate papers in Modern European history in Part II of the Tripos. Current options include Special Subjects on the 1848 revolutions, fin-de-siècle Russia, and central European cities, as well as Specified Papers on Stalinism and Soviet life, and modern Spanish history. Students on these courses have recently been on field trips to Berlin, Budapest, and Prague, to name but a few.

Faculty and graduate students meet regularly at the Modern European Research Seminar and the Graduate Workshop, which feature invited external and internal speakers as well as panel discussions and special events to ensure discussion across specialisms. The M.Phil. in Modern European History attracts outstanding graduate students from leading universities from several European and North American countries, and doctoral research in 18th, 19th, and 20th-century European history is thriving, researching around the continent and beyond to look at Europe’s relations with the wider world. Publications by faculty members of the Group have won numerous prizes and many have attracted a wide readership. 


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