Fall 2022

Taught by Peter Rutland

While most societies condemn physical violence between individuals, they condone and encourage collectively organized violence in the form of warfare. War is obscene, yet all modern societies have engaged in warfare. This course will examine war as a social, political, and historical phenomenon. We will look at the way in which wars have led to the consolidation of political power and the acceleration of social change, as well as the relationship between military service and the concept of citizenship. The course also examines the crucial role played by technology in the interaction between war and society. Films and novels will be examined to test to what extent these literary works accurately reflect, or obscure, the political, social, and technological logic driving the evolution of war. Our examples will include warfare in premodern society, the gunpowder revolution in early modern Europe and Japan, the American Civil War, colonial wars, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq.