Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Periodizing the History of War, Continued

Jenni was fighting a cold and couldn't make today's meeting; she passed the rest of us her preferred course offerings by email. But Allan, Joe and I got together and in about forty-five minutes hammered out a schedule for next year. More importantly for present purposes, we came up with a way to recast History 580. We eliminated "European Warfare" from the course title, substituted "Global History of War," and agreed on a three-quarter sequence:

580.01 Global History of War, 378 AD to 1763
580.02 Global History of War, 1763-1900
580.03 Global History of War, 1900-Present

Bering in mind the existence of History 504.01, War in the Ancient Medierranean World, which ends with the fall of Rome (ca. 410-476 CE), History 580.01 picks up with the defeat of Rome at Adrianople and addresses the role of war within the first two waves of globalization: the rise of Islam, which resulted in a much greater degree of interconnection between Europe and Asia; and the European explosion of maritime exploration, trade, and colonization in the 16th-18th centuries. We selected 1763 as the endpoint because it was the terminus date of the Seven Years' War, often called the world's first global war.

History 580.02 deals with the rise and heyday of the second wave of globalization, which saw the rise and spread of industrialization and a second spurt of European colonization, culminating in European control of over 80 percent of the earth's land surface by 1900.

History 580.03 deals with the European civil war (1914-1945) that destroyed European hegemony, the emergence of a bipolar world, and the wars of decolonization.

While the specific date parameters are drawn largely from the "triumph of the west" model of military history, we made sure the general periodizations lent themselves to other metanarratives. For instance, an interpretation that emphasized the rise of modern Asia might tweak the end point of 580.02 from 1900 to 1905 (the year of the Russo-Japanese War), or the starting point of 580.03 from 1900 to 1868 (the year of the Meiji Restoration). To underscore this point, the final set of course titles may use slightly different datings. We all knew that the actual periodization of a given course almost never follows, except roughly, the periodization in the course catalog. The important thing was to create intellectual space to do history of war in global perspective without forcing an instructor into some particular interpretive framework.

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