HIST 3825 World War II: A Global History (HA-AS, HST-AS) ( HTR)
Tuesday and Thursday: 1:25-2:40 plus discusion
Professor Ruth Lawlor
It may seem obvious that World War II was a global event, but the history of the war has often been told within national frames: the story of Britain “standing alone” in the Blitz, the “surprise” Japanese attack on the United States at Pearl Harbour, the Soviet Union’s “Great Patriotic War” or China’s “War of Resistance” against Japan. This class explores those interpretations and their limitations, seeking to understand what allowed these various wars to be unified, in military terms but also in popular memory, as a singular “world war.” In so doing, the class searches for the war’s beginnings outside of Europe and traces its ends to the shatter-zones of the Soviet frontier, anticolonial rebellions in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, civil wars raging across the world, from Greece to China, and the rise of American global power. Looking at the war from multiple angles – encompassing the interrelated histories of race, gender, capitalism, imperialism, the environment and, of course, the military -- the course starts with an overview of the world in 1919 and concludes with the partition of the Korean peninsula in 1953. In between, students will traverse the globe as they are asked to examine the war between the great powers, popular uprisings against both the Allied and Axis powers, the Holocaust and resistance to it, the experiences of women, the importance of key battles, the lives of soldiers, and the physical devastation of the war itself, fought across land, sea, and air. At the end, the class will discuss what made the Second World War truly global, and ask whether it really ended in 1945.