Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Discussions: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Grading

Section participation 15%
Two 8-page papers 35%
Two quizzes 15%
Final exam 35%


Discussion Sections

Students are required to attend section meetings. Unexcused absence from section will be penalized. We need you to come to section to help make the class work! Help us out!

Two student-led debates on responsibility for World War I and World War II will be organized in section when those wars are covered in class.


Students are required to write two short ungraded response papers that react to course readings and lectures, and several longer papers on questions arising from the course material. The two response papers each will be two pages long (doublespaced—not 1.5 spaced, please). The longer papers will total 16 pages.

Your 2-page response papers should advance an argument relevant to the course. Specifically, your argument can dispute argument(s) advanced in the reading or lectures; can concur with argument(s) advanced in the reading or lectures; can assess or explain policies or historical events described in the reading and lectures; or can address current events that are relevant to course materials or issues. In other words, your choice of topic is quite open. Evaluation of policies or ideas covered in the reading or lecture is encouraged. Somewhere in your papers—preferably at the beginning—please offer a 1-2 sentence summary of your argument. These papers will not be graded but are mandatory and must be completed to receive full credit for class participation.

We require that you submit a finished draft of at least one of your longer papers a week before its due date in order to get comments for rewrite from your TA, and/or the 17.42 writing tutor. You are wise to submit all longer papers to your TA early for comments—you'll learn from it! So please leave yourself time to get comments on drafts of your longer papers from your TAs before you submit final drafts.

Before writing your papers, please familiarize yourself with the rules of citing sources (to be handed out) and make sure you follow them. Failure to cite sources properly is plagiarism.


Two short (15 minute) quizzes will be given. Three short define-and-identify questions will be asked on each quiz.

Final Exam

A 2.5 hour final will be given in the last session. I will circulate a list of study questions before the final. The final exam questions will be drawn from this list. Students are encouraged to study together to prepare their answers. The final will also include short-answer questions that will not be distributed in advance.

Films: The 17.42 Film Society

A couple of optional evening film-showings will be organized during the term on topics to be chosen by acclamation of the class. Topics could include the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, or other subjects.