Lecture course: Memory, identity and culture in Europe (MICE)

The lecture course MICE is one of the outcomes of the Asymmetries project. It reflects on Europe cultural and historical space, historiography and transnationalism. In the ethos of new and creative pedagogy, it develops problem-based learning to humanities and social sciences.

Lecture course on Memory, identity and culture in Europe (aka MICE) (Hyl 214A) (XAK271E/XAK278E/XAK350E), 5 op

Course teacher:
Emilia Palonen, PhD, Researcher at the Asymmetries in European Intellectual Space

This course will address European history and cultural politics, nationalism. The course is based on the course teachers ongoing work between history, cultural studies and politics, and the aim is to concertize a link between the dichotomous history of Europe. The course aims at both providing academic knowledge of canonical debates on memory, identity, culture and history in Europe, and transferable skills of knowledge-production, debate and problem-solving. Europe as an uneven and historical cultural space becomes concrete to the students through history, historiography and writings on European identity. Starting from two different challenges for Europe outlined by eminent historians, and their critical and reflective assessment, the participants launch an inquiry to the foundations of these ideas and the narratives on Europe they evoke. Europe appears as a transnational space, lived, memorized, historicised and idealized in different ways and at different levels.

MICE is composed of five 4-hour sessions, focused on discussion with small lectures and presentations. The course has an interface on Moodle, where reflections, questions, literature entries are posted, group work is facilitated and assignments submitted. It also includes a field trip that would inspire by providing a new angle to the course’s topic. The course loosely follows problem-based pedagogy, starting from outlining a problem and then develop it further with related topics. The two first sessions are launched by two different – asymmetrical – problems related to the course topic (MICE). The course follows a snowballing technique, developing on the two themes. Rather than starting from the lecture, we start from something that sparks our imagination, illustrates the case and helps recognize problems for future discussion and research. The role of the teacher is to guide the students around the topic – learning by doing together. The students will familiarize themselves with 3-4 books during the course: they will develop a common library on Moodle.

The course’s learning aims and outcomes: Concretely, students will be able to manage and assemble knowledge, learn to read academic texts, report on them, make research questions and design and carry out a project of their own. Students will be able to differentiate between different perspectives to history and memory in Europe, analyze literature and assemble a portfolio and design research questions. They will also be able to recognize between different styles of history-writing, and express their preferences by making judgements on how to deal with history and memory. By the end of the course they should be able to deconstruct their own biases on the theme of MICE, reflect on their own progress on the course, and create an innovative learning portfolio by learning together and engaging together on the course.

The course is assessed partly (40 %) based on the course work, engagement in the classroom and on the Moodle and partly (60 %) on an essay/personal project that is submitted two weeks after the course.

Contact hours: 5×4 (20h), and approx. 10-14 hours per week for 7 weeks, final essay/project 20-30 h.
Examination: 5-8-page essay or a project (depending on the assessment level).
Target group: because of the reflective nature of the course, it can be offered on all levels from 3-year undergraduate to doctoral students and even postdocs. Assessment will be based on the level on which the course unit is registered for each student.

Session 1 – 16.1. 9-13: Two perspectives to Europe

The session is in two parts: we get to know two perspectives to Europe and start to work on a response that could address both problems.

We first discuss national identities and the concept of Europe, and looks at transnational ideologies across the continent across two centuries 19 th and 20 th. The lecture also introduces the idea of transnational identities and their role in the cultural production. This session particularly addresses the processes of writing a common history of Europe – and, not unrelated, those of claiming a cultural identity of Europe. It debates the potential problems with such a task, and the political aims behind it. How does the memory of the division of Europe still affect memory, culture, identity in Europe, and the WWII memory? How to imagine a unified Europe or transnational Europe? What about the contested memories of the Holocaust and Stalin’s trials? And the memory of the fascism in Europe?

This seminar explores the contested memory in Europe. We start from the dilemma of understanding “Europe” from this quote from professor Timothy Snyder: “Ukraine has no future without Europe, but Europe also has no future without Ukraine. Throughout the centuries, the history of Ukraine has revealed the turning points in the history of Europe. “ http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-04-16-snyder-en.html

Session 2 – 23 January, 9-13: writing a common history of Europe

Dealing with the questions that emerged from the first week’s commentary and that have been worked on by additional reading. Short presentations on the books that students have read on the course, and that will be added in the course “library” on Moodle.

Then we explore the processes of writing a common history of Europe. Why should there be a common sense of European history? What is problematic about this? What makes European memory fragmented? Can one reconcile between memory and history? What is Europe, who are the Europeans, in history writing? Which events are they formed by? What is common about European history? It also discusses multiculturalism and transnationalism in Europe.

“Nonetheless, there are many young Europeans – including a whole post-1989 cohort of central and east Europeans – who have been great beneficiaries of the European project. Yet we hardly hear their voices on Europe. In part, I think this is precisely because they already have the Europe that earlier generations aspired to.” Timothy Garton Ash http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/07/europe-brussels-european-eu

Session 3 – 30 January, 9-13: Defining themes, inspiring

The questions that emerged for this week [product of Session 2]:
– How is Europe conceptualized in different concept? What does it say about those proposing? Why do we need to have a certain specific definition of Europe? Why are we preoccupied in finding out what it is?
– Is Europe more than European Union? Where and when is it more than the EU?
– What’s the future Europe of the young people?

Finally, we now could start unfolding the problem of “Europe – Memory, Identity and Culture” through these two perspectives. What questions do they raise? What can be gained from the juxtaposition? What is not asked? What do we actually want to explore?

Common discussion, deliberation on what would be interesting. (Has already been added to  Division into groups. Three groups have been formed on: Memory, Visions for Europe, Stories.

Visit to the Galleria Sinne: Stefan Otto’s Traumwunsch exhibition
Europe’s past, between the collective and the subjective, family histories were made tangible in a provocative way in the Swedish artist Stefan Otto’s exhibition. Discussing for an hour at the art gallery. Reflections will be submitted on Moodle.

Session 4 – 20 February, 9-13: EU Europe

During this session we first discuss your ongoing work, and library. Have any other questions emerged from your group work? The first part of the session is themes you bring yourselves. Finally we get deeper into the “EU Europe” side. Familiarize yourselves with the suggested reading.

Session 5 – 27 February 9-13

Closing session with three presentations, each 45 minutes and a closing roundup on the achievements of the course. Clarification of the final assignment (5-8-page essay, portfolio, collective work or personal input?). Self-assessment, and assessment of the course.