History 101:  Western Thought since 1600
Hasbrouck Lab 126 - MW 11:15-12:05



Dr. Jon Berndt Olsen
Department of History

University of Massachusetts at Amherst


Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 2-3 or by appointment
Office:  Herter Hall 609
Telephone: 413.545.6767
Email: jon@history.umass.edu

Web: http://people.umass.edu/jon




Teaching Assistant

Email Address


Erika Arthur


Herter 716

Justin Silvestri


Herter 716


We have two Teaching Assistants (advanced graduate students) working with this course. Each Teaching Assistant is in charge of three discussion sections. They will lead your discussion sections on Thursdays and will be in charge of grading your exams and papers. If you have questions about the course, please contact your Teaching Assistant first. If you still need assistance, please contact me.




Welcome to History 101, Western Thought since 1600. During the next fifteen weeks, we will survey the history of Europe from the Scientific Revolution to the present day. The purpose of this class is to look back on the past 400+ years and analyze how Western society developed in order to better understand phenomena such as revolution, romanticism, nationalism, industrialization, war, and other related themes. Of these themes, nationalism will serve as a connective tissue running throughout the course as we investigate the different ways in which it has been expressed and how it has functioned in different contexts, the impact that it has had in different areas, and the way in which it has interacted with and influenced other important ideologies.


Through lectures and weekly reading assignments, you will be introduced to some of the major social, political, intellectual, and cultural forces and institutions that have shaped the course of Western thought. You will meet "great" and "ordinary" people who both reflected and shaped the West. The period covered by the course is vast, and the sheer mass of detail threatens to become overwhelming, but you should take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not expected to memorize and understand an infinite number of isolated facts.  The details that illuminate our major themes are the ones that require your most careful attention.



Naturally, in a class that spans such a broad time period, there is a limit to just how much we can cover as well as how deeply we can delve into any one subject. There will be some issues that you would rather see covered in more depth, while others of you would prefer that I skip some of the ones that I do, in fact, cover.  Hopefully, though, you will find enough here that interests you (and maybe discover some new areas to which you had previously not given much thought) to make this learning experience a valuable and enjoyable one.