Fall 2009



John W. Servos (Section 01)
Kevin M. Sweeney (Section 02)


This seminar investigates war from prehistory to the present, spending much of the time on the period since 1700 and paying special attention to the consequences of twentieth-century warfare.  Topics to be examined include: the transformative impact of technology (e.g., more efficient guns, new surveillance capabilities, air power, and weapons of mass destruction) on military tactics and strategy as well as on the concept of a “just war"and human rights (particularly the problem of war crimes and of non-combatant fatalities); the relationship of international law to war; the problem of representing and remembering wars past; women and gender in the context of war; war in an era of globalization; war and genocide; and the war on terrorism.  Our scope will be global and a range of conflicts will be considered, if not exhaustively covered.  We will draw on a diverse array of sources, including social and military history, literature, movies, war memoirs and international human rights reportage.

This is a discussion based course with the expectation of active participation by the students.  The individual sections of the course will usually meet separately and only come together occasionally (two or three times) for group activities and guest speakers. Both instructors are members of the history department: one is a specialist in American history and the other in the history of science.  The course employs a variety of approaches drawn from the humanities and the social sciences.  Students will develop critical skills by reading, writing, and discussing the films, histories, images, literature, memoirs, and government documents used in the course.  In addition to brief written exercises, students will write four five-page essays designed to integrate each section of the course. The essays will provide an opportunity to work on analytical writing and will emphasize the importance of constructing a written argument supported by evidence.

Fall semester.  Professors Servos and K. Sweeney.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009