This course is a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the politics, societies, and cultures of contemporary Europe, with a focus on France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The new European community is a complex arrangement of different nation-states and peoples, each with its own unique traditions and cultures. While the success of the European project depends in large part on the successful negotiation of these differences, some fear the eradication of difference at the expense of national identity. What do Europeans hold in common? Is there such a thing as "national character" and if so, how does it compare to national identities and stereotypes? What is the status of ethnic or regional communities within and across the nation-states of Europe? How has history shaped national consciousness? We will consider these and other questions from a range of perspectives, drawing on sources in the social sciences, the press, literature, and cinema. Students will conduct substantial research projects in teams and present their findings to the class.