Description for “Approaches to European Military History”
Here is the description for the course I’m planning to teach at George Mason University this summer:
Hist 388-B01: Approaches to European Military History.
This course examines manifold approaches to the military history of Europe. On one hand, it is a historiography course about military history’s questions, methods, and assumptions. On the other hand, it is an overview of the varieties of history that focus on war and the military in their societal context. In part, we will consider military history’s location within academic history more generally, as well as its relationship to military education and even the mainstream book market. In the main, though, we will focus on the varieties of academic military history and its many areas of research, including how battles were fought, how soldiers experienced those battles, how war and war planning looked in staffs and cabinets, the position of peacetime militaries in their societies, the effect of war on civilian societies and economies, the implications of gender studies for military history, and images of soldiering and war
amongaimed at youth. We will also address some of military history’s controversies, including the role of technology in effecting historical change.
This course is intended for anyone interested in history. It assumes no prior knowledge of military history, though a basic knowledge of European history would be helpful. The course will be based on readings and discussions, not lectures. Part of the time we will read articles and books in common, and other times students will read individualized assignments and discuss their findings with the class. In this way we will leverage our numbers to learn more as a group than we could as individuals. We will concentrate on secondary sources, though we might occasionally look at primary source excerpts that shed light on the historiography. Grades will be based on class participation (including reading presentations), three short historiographical papers based on the readings, and an annotated bibliography that focuses on a specific historical topic.