World War II

A Global History of World War II: The Zenith and End of Empire. World War II changed the world more than any other conflict in the 19th or 20th centuries. The bid by Nazi Germany and authoritarian Japan to create radically racist imperial spheres brought the old empires of Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands to their knees. In its genocide and brutal occupation policies the Nazi regime imposed a colonial-style rule in Europe itself, the trauma of which Europe is still dealing with today. Through its military expansion Japan created the space for national movements to flourish in India and Southeast Asia, and eventually turn decolonization into a reality. The war firmly entrenched communist economic regimes in Eastern Europe, and it moved Western Europe far to the left socially and economically. The war catapulted the United States and the Soviet Union into positions of world power. And finally, the war forced Europeans, Americans, and Asians to rethink the meaning of democracy, individual rights, and the place of the nation-state in a modern world. This class will trace the origins, course, and legacy of the Second World War, viewing it as a contest among empires and countries aspiring to create empires. Although military topics will be covered, this is primarily a political, economic, and international history of the Second World War. We will pay particular attention to several thematic questions. Why did Germany and Japan seek to create empires, and how did their imperial projects differ from those of Western European powers in ideology and practice? How did the war change the way people thought about questions of economics, society, and class? How did the war shape American, Soviet, and European plans for a new, postwar international order? And finally, to what extent did the war bring an end to imperialism as a form of political governance?

Offered every year. 4 points. Describes and analyzes the history of World War II chronologically from 1939 to 1945. This course is not simply a study of battles; all aspects of the war, from the great civilian and military leaders to the common soldiers, are discussed, as are social, cultural, and economic changes on the various home fronts. Illustrates personalities and events through slides, contemporary literature, photos and posters, and the music of the time.

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

January 2018

Stephen Gross
MTWR: 2:00 PM - 4:55 PM KJCC 701

Spring 2018

Kelly Elizabeth Wood
MW: 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM 5WP 101
Brandon Michael Schechter
MW: 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM 5WP 101