Tag Archives: Europe

  • European Union Governance and Policy Making: A Canadian Perspective

    To mark the publication of European Union Governance and Policy Making: A Canadian Perspective, the editors, Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Achim Hurrelmann, and Amy Verdun, reflect on what led them to produce the first textbook on EU politics designed specifically for students who are unfamiliar with the EU, many of whom are from outside the EU.

    Achim Hurrelmann: “One thing that I found fascinating in producing our textbook is that our book is itself the product of European integration, having been edited by scholars who grew up in three different EU member states: Emmanuel in France, Amy in the Netherlands, and myself in Germany. And of course, the book also reflects on Canada as the country where we all moved to teach European politics, and which welcomed us with open arms. You both came to Canada about twenty years ago, ten years before me. How was it to teach your first courses on the EU?”

    Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly: “When I started teaching, we actually did not focus on the EU as much as on Western European politics. At the time, we used a text that focused on four European countries and the construction of the European Community and the European Common Market. Because the European construction is so much a project in the making, it is hard to understand and follow how it is progressing. As a result, the process of European integration is really obscure for many people outside of the EU. What I found fascinating was to approach this textbook on the EU from that perspective, which is also our students’ perspective. Being in Canada, and having less exposure to EU politics than most of their European counterparts, our students have a knowledge gap. Hence, having the view of an outsider peeking into the European project, I thought, was just a wonderful idea.”

    Amy Verdun: “My experience was similar, and this is how the idea for this textbook was born. I first had the idea fifteen years ago, when I started coordinating a course on the EU that was multidisciplinary. I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a book specifically for this course?’ Then, as EU scholars in Canada started to cooperate more with each other through various projects, the broader contours of what such a book might look like started to emerge. In September 2009, I approached the University of Toronto Press with the idea for this textbook and they were immediately interested. I invited Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly to join me as co-editor. In May 2010 we organized a workshop in Victoria, BC where we presented the first versions of the chapters. In 2015 we invited Achim Hurrelmann to join us as the third editor.”

    Achim Hurrelmann: “In addition to the three editors, our contributors include many leading scholars from the EU studies community, which is very vibrant and active in Canada, but also exceptionally collegial. In this sense, producing this book was really a collaborative endeavor. It was not difficult to get our contributors to buy into the main objectives of the book.”

    Amy Verdun: “For the longest time, our shared experience with EU textbooks was that they were not really ideal for students whose primary experience has been outside the EU. Most textbooks are quite detailed and provide comprehensive overviews of its history, theories, institutions, governance, and policy making. We thought that a book that reduces complexity, hones in on the key issues, and does not demand much prior knowledge would be great for the courses on European integration that we teach here in Canada. We also chose a writing style that was very ‘light’ on references and refers instead to a list of references for further reading at the end of each chapter. Also, each chapter compares the issue at hand with what the situation would be in Canada—which as a federal state has some overlapping features with the EU polity. Furthermore, we have organized the text around three major themes: that the EU was created on the ashes of World War II in order to prevent another war; that the EU today has considerably more powers than a typical international organization but it falls short of being a state; and that the legitimacy of the EU is increasingly subject to debate. With all of these features, we hoped to be able to provide a text that students from outside the EU would find more digestible.”

    Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly: “The core of our project is a text that allows students to learn about the EU with the added feature that it is written from the perspective of, and in comparison with, Canada. In each chapter, we provide a text box that details a similar process or policy in Canada. This provides students with direct references to another federal state, giving students an insider-view of the European Union from-the-outside.”

    Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly is Professor and Jean Monnet Chair in Innovative Governance at the University of Victoria.

    Achim Hurrelmann is Associate Professor at Carleton University.

    Amy Verdun is Professor at the University of Victoria.

  • The Renaissance and Reformation in Northern Europe

    To mark the publication of The Renaissance and Reformation in Northern Europe, editor Margaret McGlynn provides some background on the Reformation, as well as the principles that guided the editing of this fantastic new collection. 

    The Reformation was not an event that happened in 1517, when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, but a process. 1517 marked a pivotal moment in that process, but it was a moment that was possible because reformers had been calling for change in a number of different ways, because humanists had been altering the way that theologians and scholars and laymen could interact with the Bible, and because the printing press allowed new ideas to travel more quickly than ever before. There was no way of knowing what Luther’s revelation might lead to but it proved to be the opening blast in an astonishing eruption of new ideas: calls for change in church, state, and community which would set Europe ablaze in the century that followed.

    The Renaissance and Reformation in Northern EuropeThough we can study the Reformation primarily as a religious event, The Renaissance and Reformation in Northern Europe also encourages readers to consider its reverberations through European society. In his declaration of the importance of sola scriptura, Luther unwittingly laid the groundwork for questioning all other forms of authority and his followers quickly, and often to his frustration, pursued all the possible implications of his dictum. The Bible was used as justification for peasants to revolt against their masters, for lords to kill peasants, for new forms of church organization and social organization, for women to claim a new role in the church and for men to deny it to them. Those who found themselves living in the brave new world of a disunited Christendom faced many more choices than ever before as they sought to re-structure their societies.

    In the midst of new problems and new opportunities most people continued to grapple with age-old problems: the relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children; the desire for wealth and the fear of poverty; the sadness of death and the hope of salvation. Few, however, remained untouched by the vast and sweeping changes of the period, and the texts in The Renaissance and Reformation in Northern Europe allow the reader to see the various interconnections between the new approaches to learning and teaching expounded by the humanists, the new approaches to religious and social life propounded by the reformers, and the new societies imagined and created by men and women of all creeds and stations. Some big themes run through the entire collection, such as legitimate forms of authority and the nature of obedience, but there are lots of sub-themes to explore: the hierarchical structures of society, the role of history in understanding the present, the ways in which knowledge is transmitted and absorbed, the value of experience over book-learning, and the proper—and improper—relations between men and women, masters and servants. And all of these are in the voices of the people who lived through this process, who theorized and argued, recalled and explained, dreamed and imagined. Their views are not tidy or clear cut and certainly not consistent—they were figuring things out as they went along, just like we do today. But the views are authentic: each invites us to consider a slice of a real life and someone else’s experience, belief, hope, fear, or plan.

    The first half of our collection is laid out in roughly chronological order while the second half is more thematic. Some of the texts here will be familiar to instructors—a course on the Northern Renaissance and Reformation must have Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, and Loyola and will probably have Montaigne, Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Rabelais, but beyond the core there are always options. We wanted a variety of geographical perspectives so we included Conrad Celtis and Juan Luis Vives, both of whom are clearly in the same tradition of Northern humanism as Erasmus but who bring very different perspectives on the reform of both the church and the state. When Celtis declares that Italians and Germans “would never have been restrained from mutual slaughter if provident nature had not separated us by the Alps and by cliffs raised up to the stars” he gives us a whole new perspective on both the transmission of Italian humanism to the north and the kinds of emotions that would feed into the Reformation.

    We wanted to explore the role of women in the early Reformation so we turned to Katherine Zell, Argula von Grumbach, and Anne Askew to see how women from different places and social contexts interpreted their own role in the Reformation and its implications for them. Zell declared herself “a church mother, a nurturer of the pulpit and school,” packaging a radical claim in a traditional female box, while Argula von Grumbach asked “Which doctor has made a greater vow in baptism than I have? Which pope, or emperor, or prince?” and Anne Askew affirmed that “those Scriptures that Christ has left here with us are sufficient for our learning and salvation so that I believe we need no unwritten truths to rule his church with.” Their views reflect the attitudes of the male Reformers but also raise questions about the role of women in the new church and how that might affect attitudes to and of women in other contexts, from Marguerite de Navarre to John Knox to Elizabeth I.

    We also wanted to explore the importance of economic turmoil and the numerous ways in which it appears in the sources all across Europe, from the articles of the Swabian peasants, which claimed that according to Scripture “we are and will be free” to Fish’s “Supplication” berating the clergy who divert alms from the needy whose “number is daily so sore increased that all the alms of all well-disposed people of this your realm is not half enough for to sustain them,” to the proposals for social assistance put forward by Vives, since “in the state the weak may not be neglected without danger to the strong” and the radical suggestions for the reform of criminal law voiced by More’s Raphael Hythloday. Even the explorers who went both east and west were looking for markets in which to sell the products of their workers as well as markets from which to buy the wonders of the East.

    Some of the texts were edited or modernized for this edition to provide voices that often are not heard. William Caxton, for example, lets us hear the musings of an early printer on what he can sell and to whom—not to a “rude uplandish man to labour therein nor to read it, but only for a clerk and a noble gentleman that experiences and understands feats of arms, love and noble chivalry”—taking us inside the business of printing at the very beginning. In contrast, Cervantes gives us a sense of a reading public—and one with clear expectations—in the early seventeenth century. The N-Town Mary and Joseph play gives us a vivid glimpse of what medieval people imagined had happened when the neighbours discovered that Mary “made a vow never to lie with a man, but to live a chaste and clean virgin. How ever it be, her womb does swell and is as great as yours or mine!” This unusual approach to the holy family interacts nicely with the sources on family, gender, and hierarchy as well as the concerns of both the reformers and the reformed. John Shute lets us see the early transmission of Italian ideas on architecture to England while Thomas Elyot helps us understand how, to a humanist, everything, even dance, could be humanism.

    Each text comes with a brief introduction, just enough to provide context rather than interpretation, and each text is short enough to be assigned in combination but long enough to give a real sense of the author and the issues it presents. We have taught with some of these sources for close to twenty years. Over that time we’ve re-worked the selections to interact in as many different ways as we could, not just to provide us with a variety of ways to present the culture and the cadence of the period but to also give our students as wide a range of jumping-off spots for their own interests as possible. We hope you’ll find that the sources are rich enough to be mixed and matched in whatever ways suit your style and interests and that you have as much fun teaching with them as we’ve had.

    Margaret McGlynn is Associate Professor of History at Western University in London, Ontario.

    Note: If you are an instructor and would like to consider The Renaissance and Reformation in Northern Europe for an upcoming course, please email requests@utphighereducation.com to request an examination copy.

  • Why Reading History Matters

    Since the beginning of the most recent Israeli/Palestinian crisis, my social media feeds have become a disheartening list of opinions. Many of these opinions are unbalanced, knee-jerk responses to whatever “side” the author or poster subscribes to at that particular moment. The hatred behind these postings is alarming.

    Assassination of EuropeThis past year, I had the privilege of working with one of the most prolific historians on European, Jewish, and Middle Eastern history: Howard M. Sachar. In his forthcoming book, The Assassination of Europe, Sachar explores how key assassinations between 1918 and 1942 hurled Europe into the maelstrom of World War II. When I initially read the manuscript, three thoughts crossed my mind: first, why is it so easy to hate? Second, why is hate so powerful? And lastly, I was reminded that hate can be very dangerous.

    The Assassination of Europe describes one particular act borne out of hate: political assassinations. Europe, after World War I, believed that it could fix itself. After all, it had the experience and the political and economic leadership to repair the racial, ethnic, and religious hatreds that tore it apart in the first place. However, as Sachar writes, hatred was more powerful than European arrogance:

    The glowering hatreds that engendered the late war—Germans against Slavs, Roman Catholics against Eastern Orthodox, Gentiles against Jews, poor against rich, conquerors against conquered—were neither trivial nor susceptible to assuagement either before or after the armistices of 1918. Rather, the demons survived and intensified. If they were incapable of wreaking their havoc in the immediate aftermath of the postwar “peace” conferences, there were other, equally functional paths to “rectification” and revenge.

    One of these “equally functional paths to rectification and revenge” was the silencing of moderate voices—often with bullets—by hate-filled extremists in Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, and Austria. Their removal from power led to the rise of Hitler and Mussolini among others. And we know where they led the world. Today, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, reflecting on this is crucial.

    We have all just lived through a summer filled with hate. A decade ago, students may have been able to avoid the minute-by-minute reports of devastation in Gaza, dead Israeli teenagers, or the beheadings of American journalists, but not today. Their Facebook and Twitter feeds don’t give them much respite. Many of them, just like many of us, have been overwhelmed by the opinions on social media and given in to their emotions. They have taken sides, and sometimes when people take sides, hate creeps in.

    Sachar’s book is a terrifying and violent lesson in what happens when hate creeps in. Given what has happened in the last few months and what is likely to keep happening, there is something of a moral obligation for educators to counter the often thoughtless opinions expressed on social media. If you are a professor teaching a course in modern European history and you assign a basic textbook, I would suggest that you replace the chapters in that textbook that deal with the years between 1918 and 1942 with Sachar’s book. Your students will appreciate the break from the conventional text. Or, if you frequently assign more popular histories by such authors as Robert Service, Ian Kershaw, Michael Marrus, Primo Levi, or Eli Wiesel, assign The Assassination of Europe as well.

    After your students have read the book, ask them what it has taught them. Although most of your students will not become professional historians, some will become lawyers, policy analysts, and community leaders. Most of them will become parents. The Assassination of Europe is a history lesson, and a necessary reminder that hate is not only powerful but also murderous.

    Reading books like The Assassination of Europe is a key first step in stopping the current side-taking that dominates discussion of current events on social media. I know personally of what I speak. Years ago, as an impressionable, Jewish female entrenched in the North American Reform Jewish community, I took sides, and my posts reflected that side. And I hated. But then I started to read books like The Assassination of Europe to remind myself of the power and dangers of hate. Today, I avoid extremist opinion on social media and when I do post, it is in support of peace. As Howard Sachar educated me, so can he educate your students.

    -Natalie Fingerhut, History Editor

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