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Program in European Cultural Studies


Eileen A. Reeves

Acting Director

Brigid Doherty (fall/spring)

Executive Committee

Sandra L. Bermann, Comparative Literature 

Eduardo L. Cadava, English   

Brigid Doherty, German, Art and Archaeology 

Rubén Gallo, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures 

Anthony T. Grafton, History 

Michael W. Jennings, German 

Anson G. Rabinbach, History 

Eileen A. Reeves, Comparative Literature 

Gideon A. Rosen, Philosophy, ex officio 

Maurizio Viroli, Politics 

Sits with Committee

Irena G. Gross, Slavic Languages and Literatures

The Program in European Cultural Studies was established in 1975 on the joint initiative of a number of faculty members in History, Comparative Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures, Politics, and Architecture and Urban Planning, under the leadership of Professor Carl Schorske. Its first certificate class was in 1979.

The program has two purposes: to deepen students understanding of European civilization, and to strengthen their command of cultural interpretation. ECS brings together faculty and undergraduates from a number of departments in the Humanities and the Social Sciences in a common inquiry. Their focus is, broadly stated, the ways in which European societies, past and present, order reality, make sense of life, and communicate meaning. In order to reduce these intellectual problems to manageable proportions, these issues are studied in seminars on specific themes in European history, literature, art, and philosophy.

Admission to the Program

Students from many of Princeton s established departments choose to take a certificate in European Cultural Studies. The classes in this program involve interdisciplinary approaches to the interpretation of the products of European culture, from novels and paintings to cityscapes and land-use patterns. Students should take either the Humanistic Studies 216-219 sequence, or ECS/EPS 301 or 302. Though these courses are usually viewed as prerequisites, they can be taken in the junior or senior year.

Students normally apply to join the program by the fall of their junior year. Early concentrators, late-comers, and students with further questions about the certificate are urged to contact Brigid Doherty, the Acting Director, for additional information.

Program of Study

All students must complete either HUM 216-219 or ECS/EPS 301 or 302. In addition, they must also take two 300-level seminars, and they are encouraged to enroll in a 400-level ECS seminar. The majority of these seminars are cross-listed with other departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The program has three final requirements. In their junior year, students will take part in an ECS-related excursion, and participate in the visit of the program s annual Faber lecturer. All juniors vote on the choice of the venue. The trip is typically scheduled for a Saturday or Sunday morning, and ends with a group lunch in New York City. For the annual Faber Lecture, juniors will have a lunchtime discussion with the speaker on a topic related to the lecture.

In their senior year, ECS students participate in a thesis writers colloquium. Although they write their thesis under the direction of their home departments, throughout the early spring they will meet together one evening a week, over supper, to address common problems of research, conceptualization, organization, and writing. Each student will submit a chapter to the group for feedback and discussion four days in advance of the weekly meeting. Though most ECS students address European topics in their theses, this is not a requirement of the program; for the purposes of the workshop, certificate students from the sciences or engineering may substitute a paper written for a 300-level ECS course for circulation and discussion. The thesis writers colloquium is supervised by the director of the program.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all the requirements will receive a certificate upon graduation.


ECS 301 Turning Points in European Culture (also EPS 301)   HA

Seminar draws on expertise of guest faculty from Princeton and elsewhere to provide a broad, multidisciplinary perspective on turning points in European culture from the late middle ages to the present. Gateway course for ECS and Contemporary European Politics and Society. Topics in literature, art, music, philosophy, political theory, history of science. One three-hour seminar. Staff

ECS 302 Landmarks of European Identity (see EPS 302)

ECS 312 Murder and the Media (also GER 313)   LA

What is the relationship between the modern media and violent crime? Murder is certainly a favorite topic of yellow journalism, but some would also argue that the media provoke criminal behavior through the very act of depicting it. By looking at how murder is "composed" in a number of popular media ranging from detective literature to crime scene photography, this seminar investigates the feedback loop between crime and its representation in modern life. While the course covers a variety of texts from the 19th century to the postwar period, the historical focus of the seminar will be the crime-obsessed culture of Weimar Germany. Staff

ECS 317 Transnational Modernism (also COM 317)   LA

How did modernist writers around the world imagine and represent other worlds in relation to their own? How were tangled lines of connection and disjuncture, locality, inter- and outer-nationality, movement and stasis, given form in different places and situations? Does this have anything to do with the specificity of what we call "modernism" in literature? Can modernism sabotage a globalizing modernity? We trace lines of (dis)connection--from Harlem to Paris to a wider black diaspora encompassing Africa and the Caribbean; from England to the Americas; below the nation in colonial India; and from the Antilles to Algeria to France. Staff

ECS 319 The Modern Period (see COM 318)

ECS 320 Cultural Systems   Spring

Symbolic systems and social life in specific historical eras. Topics will vary. Recent courses include, for example, magic, art, and science in Renaissance culture, political discourse and nationalism, culture and inequality, history of technology, and the rhetoric of new media. Staff

ECS 321 Cultural Systems (also HUM 321)   Fall LA

Symbolic systems and social life in specific historical eras. Topics will vary. Recent courses include, for example, magic, art, and science in Renaissance culture, political discourse and nationalism, culture and inequality, history of technology, and the rhetoric of new media. S. Haag

ECS 327 Fin-de Siècle Vienna (also GER 329)   LA

Focusing on the Vienna metropolis at the turn of the 20th century, this seminar examines key issues in the emergence of European modernism. A booming urban center, the old capital of the Habsburg Empire was a site of innovation in architecture and the applied arts as well as theater, literature and psychology. Through the study of a broad range of both textual and visual works by Freud, Hofmannsthal, Kraus, Loos, Klimt, Herzl and others, we will discuss the complex relationship between the reshaping of urban space, new modes of sensory experience and artistic experimentation. S. Haag

ECS 330 Communication and the Arts (also COM 321)   Spring LA

The arts and the media in different cultures. Topics will vary, for example, history of the book, art/architecture and society, opera and nationalism, literature and photography, theater and politics. Staff

ECS 331 Communication and the Arts (also HIS 430/COM 350/HLS 332)   Spring LA

The arts and the media in different cultures. Topics will vary, for example, history of the book, art/architecture and society, opera and nationalism, literature and photography, theater and politics. Staff

ECS 334 Gamblers, Castrati, Madwomen: An Alternate History of Enlightenment Opera in France and Italy (also MUS 334/COM 322)   LA

We will recreate a "ground view" of 18th-Century opera, its forgotten masterpieces and role within civic and cultural landscapes of ancien-régime Europe. Focus will be on six works: Giulio Cesare (Handel), Zoroastre (Rameau), Le devin (Rousseau), Zémire et Azor (Grétry), Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart), and Nina o La pazza per amore (Paisiello). We will discuss genre and style, and the complex relationship between musical sounds and verbal meanings in both French and Italian traditions. Musical expertise welcome, not required. E. Lockhart

ECS 340 Literature and Photography (also COM 340)   LA

A survey of the history of the rapport between literature and photography, looking closely at a number of literary and theoretical texts that differently address questions central to both literature and photography: questions about the nature of representation, reproduction, memory and forgetting, history, images, perception, and knowledge. One three-hour seminar. Staff

ECS 350 Books and Their Readers   LA

This course will offer an intensive introduction to the history of the making, distribution and reading of books in the West, from ancient Greece to modern America. By examining a series of case studies, we will see how writers, producers, and readers of books have interacted, and how the conditions of production and consumption have changed over time. A. Grafton

ECS 360 Central-European Literature of the 20th Century (also SLA 360)   EM

This course is designed to introduce students to Central European literature, culture and history. We will focus on texts from Poland, ex-Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and the impact of Jewish culture on the region as a whole. The course will begin with the interwar period (1918-1939) and the immediate postwar part of the course is dominated by fictional and nonfictional accounts of World War II, the Holocaust and Communism. We will discuss literature as an opposition tool, the writer in exile, and the post-communist accounting for the past. I. Gross

ECS 370 Weimar Germany: Painting, Photography, Film (see GER 370)

ECS 391 Holocaust Testimony (also COM 391/JDS 391)   LA

This course focuses on major issues raised by but also extending beyond Holocaust survivor testimony, including the communication of trauma, genres of witnessing, the ethical implications of artistic representation, conflicts between history and memory, the fate of individuality in collective upheaval, the condition of survival itself, and the crucial role played by reception in enabling and transmitting survivors' speech. T. Trezise

ECS 450 Seminar. 19th-Century European Art (see ART 450)

ECS 458 Seminar. Modern Architecture (see ART 458)