War and Society

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HIST 2220
War and Society
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

Class sections will be divided between lectures and seminar discussions. The seminar discussion sessions will serve as a forum for the analysis and discussion of scholarly literature and as a testing ground for student hypotheses. The instructor will encourage students to elaborate, refine and revise ideas. Discussion sessions will also include tutorials in conducting historical research, the exploration of primary source documents, and practice in oral presentations. Participation in both lectures and seminar discussions is required for the successful completion of the course.

Course Description
This course examines some of the key issues in the history of war and society. After reviewing a variety of scholarly approaches to defining war, the course investigates the role of violence in human nature, the evolution of warfare resulting from technological innovations and cultural change, and the complex relationships between war, culture, and society. Students will read primary sources (documents, memoirs, and novels) and secondary sources (journal articles and chapters of books), as well as viewing a variety of visual representations of warfare (artwork, films, and documentaries).
Course Content

A sample course outline would include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.


  1. Introduction to Theories of War and Militarism
  2. Classical Warfare in Ancient Greece and Rome
  3. Pre-modern Warfare: Chivalry and Castles
  4. The Military Revolution: Gunpowder and Drill
  5. The Nation in Arms: Revolutionary War, 1776-1815
  6. Strategy and Tactics: Clausewitz and Jomini to Guevera and Kahn
  7. Imperial War: 18th-19th Centuries
  8. Industrialization and Total War: The World Wars of the 20th century
  9. Nuclear Stalemate and the Cold War
  10. Wars of National Liberation: Theory and Practice
  11. Terrorism?: Strategic Bombing to Car Bombs
  12. Coming Home: The Social and Psychological Impact of War
  13. Home/Front: Men and Women at War
  14. Religion and War: Just War and  Conscientious Objection
  15. Mass Mobilization: War, Media, and Propaganda
  16. Post-Modern Warfare: Global Conflict in the Digital Age
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:


  1. Examine historical sources critically and analytically (reading history). These sources include not only survey texts and scholarly articles, but also short monographs and extended primary sources.
  2. Create and communicate personal interpretations of historical problems (writing history). Forms for communication of personal interpretations include medium-length essays (from 1500-3000 words), comparative book reviews, short interpretive essays, primary source studies, and final examinations.
  3. Independently analyze the ideas of other students and the instructor in class in both tutorials and seminars (discussing history).
Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accord with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Specific components of evaluation will include some of the following: mid-term and final exams consisting of short answer questions and essay questions; in-class written work, quizzes, research paper; seminar presentations; short debate/position papers; participation in class discussions.


Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester and will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.


An example of one evaluation scheme:

Any combination of the following totalling 100%


Essays (one to four)

20% - 60%

Tests (at least two)

20% - 60%

Instructor’s General Evaluation (Participation, quizzes, etc.)

10% - 20%


No single essay or test will constitute less than 10% or more than 35% of the grade

Total value of all essays will not be less than 20% or more than 60%

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


Texts will be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically:

An instructor’s Course Reader may be required.


Bourke, Joanna. An Intimate History of Killing. London: Granta, 2000.


Dyer, Gwynne. War: The New Edition. Toronto: Vintage/Random House, 2005.


Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.


Lindqvist, Sven. A History of Bombing. New York: New Press, 2000.


Lynn, John. Battle: A History of Combat and Culture. Cambridge: Westview, 2003.


Morillo, Stephen, Jeremy Black, and Paul Lococo. War in World History. Toronto: McGraw Hill, 2009.


Neiberg, Michael. Warfare in World History. London: Routledge, 2001.


Preston, Richard A., Alex Roland and Sydney F. Wise.  Men in Arms. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001.


Townshend, Charles. The Oxford History of Modern War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.


In addition to monographs, memoirs or novels with historical applications may also be assigned.

Examples include:


Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961.


Spiller, Roger. An Instinct for War: Scenes from the Battlefields of History. Cambridge: Belkamp, 2005.


von Grimmelshausen, Hans Jacob. The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus. Columbia, S: Camden, 1993.


Walter, Jakob. The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Solder. New York: Doubleday, 1991.