Studying European History
European history, as most American university students know it, does not constitute ipso facto an organic field of study within the historical discipline. It is, in fact, an early-twentieth-century creation of an American university system preoccupied with "prenatal American history." Across the twentieth century, however, European history as a discrete subfield within university history departments has become established practice. Scholars refer to "European history" often as shorthand for their general interest in the individual national histories of the modern states on the European continent. My own interest, however, focuses on Europe as an idea, on the emergence of a European discourse and of Europe as a locus of identity.
If you're looking for a few books to provide you with a good historical overview of European history, take a look at these recommended texts. From the classic surveys to some of the more recent interpretations, you can choose based upon your interests. Additionally, you'll find good recommendations for national histories.
Films and Videos
We can learn so much about a society and its culture by engaging its films. Film makers often provide social or political commentary in their works, sometimes implicitly. Though our inclination as historians is to be drawn naturally toward text, films can offer an important complement to our studies. Consider some of the films listed here to help introduce you to a given time or topic. (Also, if you're trying to learn another language, foreign-language films can help.)
Here are some of my favorite reference texts and helpful how-to guides for conducting research, for practicing the historical craft, on writing and prose style, and on learning German.
You can find a great variety of good resources online for your research and writing. This page features some helpful leads for online historical materials.
This library will direct you to some of the most important monographs of modern European history. It is built on the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History & New Media's Zotero platform. Sorting with tags, you can generate bibliographies and reading lists on given fields and topics. Graduate students reading in European history or preparing for oral qualifying examinations should find this a particularly valuable resource.
Effective historical writing relies on rich engagement with the original record. Extensive archival research does not always prove practical for students looking to pursue their own research agendas, but, with access to a quality research library, one can make great strides. This page features a variety of published sources—namely official documents series in print and on microfilm.
For students with an interest in European history, it has never been easier or less expensive to remain up to date on the latest developments in your fields of study. On this page are listed a number of journals and web-based resources that anyone with a professional interest in modern European history should familiarize himself or herself with.