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A People's History of War: From Imperial Rome to Modern Afghanistan

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Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
June 30, 2014 - July 11, 20142M-F 12:45-3:35POpenAdam Boss, Wanda Henry10515

Course Description

“War is hell”, an old saying goes. Yet people have waged war on one another for all of human history, and communities around the globe continue to face the harsh realities of war every day. Rather than focusing on battles and military tactics, this course offers a deeper understanding of the human experience of warfare. By examining the social and cultural impact of violent conflict on civilizations ranging from the Roman Empire and medieval Japan to the modern United States and Afghanistan, students will gain a broad historical background on an issue of pressing present-day importance.

While covering wars from a wide range of periods and regions, our discussions will center on key thematic questions. Is war an unavoidable part of human existence? How do women, men, and children experience war differently? How do the movements of refugees, prisoners of war, and soldiers reshape societies? In what ways do movies and the media influence the way that people view wars, and what effect have different wars had on artistic movements, science, medicine, and technology? We will examine these and other issues by relying on the writings, musical compositions, paintings, and films that people throughout history have produced to commemorate, denounce, and glorify war. Through work with this wide variety of source materials, students will develop a foundation for critical research in the humanities and social sciences.

By the end of this course, students should be able to understand and discuss the causes for wars and critically compare the experiences and effects of warfare for different populations and cultures. In addition, students will learn to critically evaluate primary sources and write successful college essays that present their analysis in efficient and well-supported arguments.