A Global History of World War II is an University Honors seminar with a study tour to the United Kingdom and France in 15FS!
Class meeting times: T, 6:00 - 8:20pm BOK: DC, HP
Its Content: This course examines the Second World War in its global contexts. It emphasizes the comprehensive impact of warfare not only on the battlefield, but also on the intellectual, cultural, and political life of belligerent states, above all Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, and the United States. It attends to everyday life during the war, to the experience of women and children, and to the “barbarization of warfare” that led to the enslavement, murder, and genocide of millions of noncombatants. It addresses, finally, developments that portended the division of Europe and the world after 1945.
Its Importance: World War II was the largest single event in human history. It mobilized seventy million people for military service and affected countless more through economic disruption, family separation, physical and emotional suffering, and grievous loss. Destroying some sixty million lives worldwide, it convulsed the symbolic and moral order so profoundly that its impact reverberated well past 1945 in Cold War animosities and “proxy war” conflicts, decolonization in Africa and Asia, international relations, international law, humanitarian intervention, and Postmodern intellectual, cultural, and artistic life, among many other facets of human experience. Indeed, its impact can still be felt today in manifold ways.
Its Relevance to You: Rarely does a topic of university study speak to all of who we are as integrated and inescapably embodied intellectual, feeling, and ethical human persons. World War II is such a topic. Its violence was so terrible, its crimes so pitiless, its valor so breathtaking, that its history confronts us with disturbing and urgent questions about ourselves as selfsame members of the human family. Students with the courage to approach these questions have radically changed their minds about themselves and others, very often becoming more intently studious, humble, emotionally mature, and sensitive individuals. If “transformative education” is what you want, if this is what you expected to find when you enrolled in university, then this course is a good choice for you.