HIST 484
The Second World War: Origins, Course, Outcomes, and Meaning Fall 2019
Division II Writing Skills
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Class Details

1991 marked the 50th anniversaries of the Nazi invasion of Russia and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Though war had come to Europe as early as 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, after 1941 the war became a truly global conflict of unprecedented extent, ferocity, and destructiveness. As late as 1943 it still appeared that the Axis powers might win the war. But, by the end of 1945, the bombed-out ruins of Germany and Japan were occupied by the Allies, who were preparing to put the surviving Axis leaders and generals on trial for war crimes. This tutorial will concentrate on important questions and issues that arise from a study of WWII. What were the origins of this central event of the 20th century? How and why did the war begin? Why did the war take the course it did? What were the most crucial or decisive episodes or events? How did the Allies win? Why did the Axis lose? Could the outcome have been different? Many of the topics examined will also have to deal with important questions of human responsibility and the moral or ethical dimensions of the war. Why did France, Britain, and the Soviet Union not stop Hitler earlier? Who was to blame for the fall of France and the Pearl Harbor fiasco? Why did the Allies adopt a policy of extensive firebombing of civilian targets? How could the Holocaust have happened? Could it have been stopped? Did the Atomic bomb have to be dropped? Were the war crime trials justified? By the end of this tutorial, students will have become thoroughly familiar with the general course the war followed as well as acquiring in-depth knowledge of the most decisive and important aspects of the conflict. Students will also have grappled with the task of systematically assessing what combinations of material and human factors can best explain the outcomes of the major turning points of the war, and also have dealt with the problem of assessing the moral and ethical responsibility of those persons, organizations, and institutions involved.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1300
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: will write and present orally an essay of approximately seven double-spaced pages every other week on a topic assigned by the instructor; students not presenting an essay have the responsibility of critiquing the work of their colleague
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: junior and senior History majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students will present 7 double-spaced pages every other week and a 7-10 page final written exercise. Students will receive from the instructor timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.

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