History 323: Modern Germany
Tobin Hall room 204 – TR 11:15 am – 12:05 pm



The main theme of this class is German nationalism and national identity.  The ideology of nationalism has helped shape Germany since the 17th Century like no other, but it has taken different forms and had different effects depending on where one looks.  Through this assignment, we want to take a look at the phenomenon of German nationalism by examining some examples of how it has manifested itself in particular contexts.  In doing so you will learn to think like an historian, finding relevant sources and analyzing them within their historical context.  In the end, you will learn how to find primary sources, how to read them critically, how to place them in their historical context, and then assemble your findings in a clear, well-organized, and well-written paper.



You will need to find two primary sources from one of the time periods, themes, or interest groups covered during the course of this class (listed below).  The sources can be from a variety of fields, including politics, culture, society, economics, etc., but must speak specifically to the topic you decide to work on.  Most importantly, they must deal in some way with German nationalism or national identity.  After having selected your sources, you are to critically analyze the materials as expressions of nationalism or national identity.  What do the materials say? How do they relate to one another?  With what aspects of nationalism do the materials deal?  How would you characterize that nationalism or national identity?  What kind of language is used?  What sort of symbolism is employed?  You will then want to understand why they say what they say – why they express themselves in the particular way that they do.  This involves placing the materials in their historical context.  Who produced them?  When were they produced?  What was happening at the time they were being produced?  You will need to find appropriate secondary sources – books or journal articles – to help you answer these questions.  As you reflect upon the primary sources and their historical context, you will begin to develop a thesis – the argument you will be making in this paper.  What can you say about German nationalism or national identity of the individuals or groups in question?  Can you make any broader observations about nationalism or national identity itself?

  • In analyzing your materials with an eye to what they can tell us about German nationalism in a particular context, you will obviously need to demonstrate an understanding of the concept of nationalism itself.  While there are many books written on the subject and are available in the library.  You should, during the process of conceptualizing your project, consult one or more of these books in order to find a theory of nationalism that helps you to better understand the materials you are using.


  • In addition to the primary sources, you will need to find additional materials – secondary sources – to help you place the sources in their proper historical context.  These materials can be either books or journal articles, but either way, they must be of a scholarly nature (i.e. do not use the Internet for your secondary sources - except to find them in the library catalogue).  If you are not sure whether what you have chosen is of an appropriate level, please make sure to check either with me or your TA.  Use of inappropriate material will result in a lowered grade.
  • If you use the Internet to find one or both of your primary sources, you must turn in a listing of the web-site and a printed copy of the primary sources you will be using.

French Occupied Germany

German Fraternities

Metternich’s “Germany”

The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation

The Congress of Vienna

The Hambacher Festival

1848 Revolutions

The Frankfurt Parliament

The Wars of Unification

Bismarck’s Germany

Wilhelmine Germany

The Weimar Republic

The Pan-German League

The Rise of Nazism

Jews in Nazi Germany

Allied Occupied Germany

West Germany

East Germany 

Re-United Germany

Minorities in Germany

For themes or topics that are not listed, but which you feel may be appropriate, and on which you would like to write, please check with me or your TA for approval before proceeding.




Your paper should adhere to proper essay form – an introduction, body, and conclusion.  The introduction should contain the thesis statement as well as your strategy for proving your thesis.  The body will contain the argument and the evidence to support it, organized well into paragraphs according to the issue they address.  The conclusion should show what you have proven and perhaps ask some larger or related question that would require further investigation.  The essay must be no less than six (6) and no more than eight (8) double-spaced pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, and one-inch margins.  Please use footnotes when citing both your primary and secondary sources.  You must use footnotes whenever you cite outside materials, whether you quote directly or use information in your own words that you derived from a secondary source.  You must include a list of works cited at the end.  All work must be typed.  Anything you hand in that consists of more than a single page must be stapled (or paper clipped) or it will not be accepted.  Please be sure to adhere to the university honor code and sign your name on the front of your paper.