History | War and Modern American History
A379 | 12622 | McGerr

A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only

This course examines the interrelationship between warfare and the
development of American society from the 1860s to the present, from
the Civil War to the Iraq War.  We will focus particularly on four
issues: the uses of war and the military as instruments of American
policy; the changing forms of battle; the experience of ordinary
soldiers and other combatants; and the impact of war on American
culture and society.  Topics include: “modern” and “total” war; the
impact of technology; airpower and nuclear weapons;
counterinsurgency and “transformation”; the “military industrial
complex”; the draft and the “volunteer” army; the role of women in
combat; the behavior of soldiers in combat; and the distinctiveness
of the American military experience.

In developing your understanding of the issues noted above, this
class pursues the aims common to introductory history courses.
Through lectures and assignments, you will practice using the
analytical tools of historians.  You will increase your ability to
think historically, to recognize how the past conditions the present
and the future, to analyze historical evidence, and to read, view,
and write critically.

There is no text book; instead, articles, book chapters, and primary
source documents are available on the class Oncourse website.
Students will write four short quizzes on assigned readings, three
in-class essays, a mid-term exam, and a final exam.