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Photograph by Philip Brown

Spring 2018

1. HSTR 145 "Reinventing Japan"

This course is designed to trace the political, cultural, and economic development of Japan from the earliest times to the present. Special attention will be given to Japanese relations with Asia and the West, both in the context of “cultural borrowing” and war, and how these relations shaped the emergence of the modern Japanese state. 

Other issues addressed in this course will be the changing role of women in Japanese society, the development of the myth of Japanese homogeneity and the emperor-system ideology, relations with the native Ainu, the war in the Pacific, and postwar Japan.  The goal will be to present Japan in a fresh light, one that emphasizes the diversity and contention surrounding the rise of modern Japan.

 

2. HSTR 372 "The World at War"

Sixty million people died in World War II. The war stretched from the deserts of North Africa and the jungles of Southeast Asia to the cold forests of Northern Europe and the snow swept planes of Russia. Governments—fascist, communist, and capitalist democracies alike—mobilized entire nations for “total war,” which meant all production, labor, propaganda, and military activity was channeled toward the war effort.

In some respects, the war was a “just war,” the Allies’ campaign against global fascism and ultra-nationalism—nearly a half million US soldiers died in a foreign war to liberate Hitler’s Fortress Europe from fascist control. But World War II was also largely fought in the contested spaces of decaying colonial empires, from the Dutch East Indies and England’s Burma to Italy’s Desert Empire in Ethiopia and the German colonial desires in Poland.

            This course explores World War II in all its complexities. It focuses on the political and military ideologies and the geopolitical relations and rivalries that fueled the conflict, as well as the nature of military engagements and the machines used. It investigates the ideologies that drove the quest for empire and lebensraum, or “living room,” a notion that drove Japan’s ambitions in Manchuria and China, as well as Germany’s in Poland and beyond.

            World War II was heavily documented in film and prose, making it a conflict best understood through visual and written sources—in some respects, the realities of the siege of Stalingrad, for example, can only be understood through film footage, and even then only in part. This course explores the major campaigns of World War II through lectures, documentaries, and primary source readings. In the end, the course looks at the world that was left in the wake of World War II, and how the conflict is understood today.