Creating Europe

Creating Europe (called Rethinking Europe after Eurocentrism during the fall semester) was an official WHC working group for the 2019-2020 academic year. The working group met once every two weeks throughout the year; generally discussed a common reading; and then related those readings to programmatic issues at Pitt (e.g. graduate program, events). A major outcome was a collaborative application for European Union funding for a speaker series, although those plans were put on hold as a result of the pandemic, as were their regular meetings. 

During the fall 2019 semester, the working group explored the place of European history at Pitt (from undergraduate course sequences to graduate concentrations to faculty research) by putting the intellectual dimension front and center. How do we approach European history at Pitt? How have post-1989 developments changed our perceptions of Europe, and what are the implications for 'Europe' as a subject of study? Is 'Europe' even a useful organizational category, or are we stronger with either broader (e.g. Atlantic or Eurasia) or narrower (e.g. Eastern Europe) formulations? To begin a dialogue about these and other questions the group convened over the course of the semester to discuss a common reading on European history (very broadly defined), with sessions on (for instance) maritime peripheries and Eurasian borderlands. These purely scholarly discussions provided a foundation for more practical ones in the hope that by developing a better understanding of the strengths and perspectives of this scholarly cluster, course offerings, graduate training, and department intellectual culture could be enhanced.

Continuing from the previous semester, in the spring of 2020 the working group explored questions about the creation of Europe. What was the idea of Europe? Where did it come from and what were its different guises? What lent this vaguely-defined region an internal coherence? The meetings laid the groundwork for a speaker series in AY2020-21 in cooperation the European Studies Center which has been put on hold for the time being.