Unit I: La Belle Époque & Imperialism

Europe’s era of grand culture and prosperity prior to World War I became known as La Belle Époque (French for “The Beautiful Era”). Western Europe fondly reminisced these times after the great war, but held a selective memory of the era’s darker truths. In this unit, we will investigate philosophical changes, economic models, and the growth of imperialism.

Main Texts:

Weber, E. (1989). “Paris: La Belle Époque,” National Geographic. pp. 158-74.
La Belle Epoque Outline

Achebe, C. (1959). Things Fall Apart. New York Anchor Press, 1994.
Things Fall Apart Characters & Terms

Primary Source Readings:

Parable of a Madman by Friedrich Nietzsche
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Excerpts)
Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell
White Man’s Burden” by Rudyard Kipling
Herbert Spencer on “Social Darwinism”
Karl Pearson on “Social Darwinism”
Black Man’s Burden” by Edward Morel

Secondary Sources:

Freudian Theory
Berlin Conference
Rails, Tax Wars

Other Resources:

La Belle Epoque Characteristics (PowerPoint)
New World Capital
Imperialism Powerpoint

College Lectures (If you’re interested)

Paris and the Belle Epoque – John Merriman (Yale)
Imperialism Lecture – Thomas Laqueur (UC Berkeley)
French Imperialism – Charles Keith (Yale) Resource
Imperialists & Boy Scouts – John Merriman (Yale)
Imperialism & Mass Politics – Lynn Hunt (UCLA)

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