Spring 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course constitutes a graduate core requirement and serves as a broad introduction to the interdisciplinary approaches that inform the program in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. This particular section of the course will take as its foundation for investigation and response World War II, which would include both the run-up to the war and the immediate aftermath. As you should know, this conflict directly involved about eighty-percent of the organized sovereign nations on the globe, cost more than $1.5 trillion, and took the lives of somewhere between fifty and fifty-five millions of people. In addition, it reshaped the cartography of the world, particularly in Europe and Asia, led to the termination of empires and the rise of new nations, as well as the emergence from isolation of others. Although usually regarded as an ideological conflict resulting from the tripartite struggle among democratic republicanism, fascism, and Bolshevism (or Communism), the wars causes and prosecution also centered on the age-old motivations of a desire for greater wealth and more space for the principal instigators. This course will investigate the war from three primary perspectives: Historical, Artistic, and Literary. Emphasis will be placed on the US involvement in the war as a member of the Allied Nations, which included Great Britain, the USSR, China, and, ultimately, the French; but there will be considerable attention paid to both the Japanese Empire and the German Third Reich, as well. We will consider historical, literary, and artistic responses to the greatest human conflict in the history of civilization, an event that was characterized by colossal destruction, the rise of science as dominating factor in the dealings of nations, and a new ideological and political conflict that would divide the world into two bellicose spheres for nearly fifty years. For the most part, students will be asked to examine the two principal theaters of war and to read or view and react to cultural responses.
Textbooks for this course are on order, and I am awaiting confirmation of availability for some texts. However, all students are advised to begin and, if possible, complete reading a history of the Second World War.
The Second World War, by John Keegan has been ordered as a recommended text for the course. Students wishing to read more comprehensively and contemporarily may prefer to read one or more of the following, but everyone must read something.
The Storm of War, by Andrew Roberts
The Great Crusade, by H. P. Willmott
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer
A History of the Second World War, by B. H. Liddell Hart
Or some similar history.
Additionally, I have placed The World at War on Reserve in the McDermott Library. This is a six-DVD set of one-hour episodes produced by the BBC in the 1970s. Though flawed, it is comprehensive, and Lawrence Olivier's narration is haunting.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
This will be a reading-intensive course. Students will be asked to read, at minimum, one history of the war, several volumes of prose and poetry, and to view and react to visual artistic responses such as film and slide presentations. Students will be responsible for an oral report as well as a longer, written exercise or project.