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Lectures / Disk 16


European Thought & Culture in the 20th Century (Part I)
Prof. Lloyd Kramer (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

DISK 16.1 
Lecture 1: The Origins of 20th-Century European Thought
This lecture introduces the overall themes of the course and summarizes the main trends of intellectual life in late 19th century Europe. It provides a brief summary of the late 19th century cultural context, by giving an overview of Western cultural conceptions of reason and revelation before looking at specific cultural themes of the era such as: faith in scientific knowledge, the belief in progress and the political and economic ideas of classical liberation.

Lecture 2: Universities, Cities & the Modern “Culture Industry”
The institutional and urban context that shaped many of the patterns in modern European thought is discussed in this lecture. The emergence of modern universities and the modern intellectual life as an ongoing exchange between universities and avant-garde cultural groups are also described.

Lecture 3: Naturalism in Fin-de-Siecle Literature
New forms of literary realism creating the new genre of ‘naturalism’ were developed by European writers at the end of the 19th century. In this lecture the characteristics of literary naturalism and three writers who exemplified this kind of literature are discussed.

Lecture 4: The New Avant-Garde Literary Culture
At the end of the 19th century a new generation of poets and creative writers rejected much of the scientific philosophy that shaped academic institutions. They argued that creative artistic work should portray inner visions and symbolic meaning rather than objective representations of the external world. This lecture looks at certain avant- garde authors who shaped the new literary themes in this way.

Lecture 5: Rethinking the Scientific Tradition
This lecture refers to the critique of post- Enlightenment scientific thought which spread beyond various literary movements into philosophy and even into certain forms of science.
It explores some influential critiques and revisions of the positivist tradition such as Einstein’s special theory of relativity. There is also a brief discussion of how the new views of knowledge and science began to undermine the confidence in knowledge and truth that was found in earlier cultures.

Lecture 6: The Emergence of Modern Art
This lecture discusses the new forms of art in the late 19th century. A new ‘modern’ art gained wide influence as artists explored their personal visions, turning away from representations of objective and external realities. This new approach to art termed Impressionism and more radical forms such as Cubism and Fauvism are discussed in this lecture.

DISK 16.2 
Lecture 7: Emile Durkheim & French Social Thought
A key figure of French sociology, as it had emerged as a modern social science, among French theorists was Emile Durkheim. This lecture discusses his life, his interest in religion and his analysis of social dislocation in modern societies. The lecture also notes his influence on the emergence of modern anthropology.

Lecture 8: Max Weber & the New German Sociology
Social theorists in Germany showed more interest in human consciousness and in the historical emergence of modern life rather than the positivist descriptions of the social world. This concern with human consciousness appeared in theorists such as Max Weber; who tried to explain the links between Protestant Christianity and modern capitalism, providing an example of what came to be known as historical sociology. His life and career are discussed in this lecture.

Lecture 9: The Great War & Cultural Pessimism
The great war of 1914-1918 was one of the greatest catastrophes in European history. Europe never regained the dominant global position that it held before the war. This lecture summarizes the characteristics of World War l and it stresses that the war contributed to the establishment of cultural pessimism.

Lecture 10: Sigmund Freud & Psychoanalytic Theory
Freud’s life and the themes of his psychoanalytic theory are discussed in this lecture. It summarizes his descriptions of the human mind, his ideas for the treatment of depression and his tendency to link science and literature in his theoretical works.

Lecture 11: Freud, Jung & the Constraints of Civilized LifeThis lecture discusses Freud’s social theories and suggests that the events of World war l deepened Freud’s interest in irrational collective behaviors and the aggressive drives that shape the ‘death instinct’.

Lecture 12: Poetry & Surrealism After the Great War
The discussion of intellectual responses to World War l is continued in this lecture by examining postwar poetry and the emergence of the radical experimental movements that became known as ‘Dada’ and ‘surrealism’.

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