Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

The normal syllabus for this class has been reorganized to focus primarily on the War in Iraq. As in previous years, the class still examines war in cross-cultural perspective, asking whether war is intrinsic to human nature, what causes war, how particular cultural experiences of war differ, and how war has affected American culture. In the first third of the semester, we will read accounts of wars ranging from headhunting in the rainforest to Medieval European war and contemporary war in Rwanda. The remainder of the class will focus on the American experience of war in Vietnam and Iraq. Having established Vietnam as a frame (albeit an ambiguous one) for what follows, we will look at American reactions to September 11, the debate for and against invading Iraq, the reporting in the media of war in Iraq, and recent accounts of the unraveling of that war. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed, and in the past students in the class have come from all across the ideological spectrum.

Course Requirements

The requirements for this course are one short paper and one longer paper preceded by a brief class presentation. The short paper will be on readings in the first third of the class. The longer paper will be on a topic, chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor, related to the War on Terror or the invasion of Iraq. Students will, in addition, be evaluated on the basis of their participation in class discussions and should come to class punctually, prepared to take part in discussion. Regular class attendance is expected. There will be no final exam.


LEC # TOPICS key dates
1 Introduction
Part 1: Theoretical Perspectives
2 Is War "Natural"?
3 War and Sociobiology
4 Experiences of War and Violence I
5 Experiences of War and Violence II
6-8 Civil War and Genocide in Rwanda
9 Darfur
10 Reconciliation After War? First paper due 2 days after Lecture 10
Part II: America at War
11 Vietnam I
12 After Vietnam
13-14 The First Gulf War
15 Media and the First Gulf War
16 September 11
17 For and Against Invading Iraq I
18 For and Against Invading Iraq II
19 Manufacturing Consent for War
20 Media and the War on Terror
21 Behind Enemy Lines
22 Abu Ghraib
23 Class Presentations
24 Class Presentations (cont.) Second paper due