After finishing up his course on modern French history, I started watching the lectures from Professor Merriman’s course on European Civilization on Academic Earth. It was a survey course, so I can’t say I learned a whole heckuvalot, but there were several lectures that stood out.
Professor Merriman maintains that the key to understanding the French is to understand that as a country, France was weaker in victory after WWI than Germany was in defeat. That theme, that permeated the French history course, comes up again in this one. He spend far more time on the 20th century than on those earlier, with particular emphasis on the World Wars. He asserts that they were really just one war, that lasted 30 years.
I appreciated the recurring themes of nationalism and identity. I liked the way that Merriman talks through the similarities and differences in national experience and character. I particularly liked one lecture in which he describes why every country in Europe had some kind of proletarian revolution in 1848. Except England.
Obviously, France is Merriman’s area of expertise, so if you don’t want to hear about it, you might want to skip this one. But I could listen to this guy talk all day long.