This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the Cold War, a global conflict with political, cultural, and military tensions. In this course, we will explore the diplomatic, military, and cultural ramifications of the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. We will pay attention to the impact of that confrontation around the world, including in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Our goal is to approach the Cold War from a variety of perspectives. Not only will we cover its impact on places around the world, but we will also pay attention to what it meant for ordinary citizens, for the development of science and technology, and for international institutions that have survived beyond the end of the conflict. Your essay assignments will give you plenty of leeway to explore places or themes that are important to you, beyond what we will study in class. And our final essay assignment will ask you to consider the enduring legacy of the Cold War for our modern world.
By the end of this course, you will have a broad familiarity with the international history of the Cold War. You will understand the ideological conflict at the core of the conflict and be able to appreciate its continuing relevance. You will gain an appreciation for the way scholars study and write about the Cold War. And you will have read primary sources in a variety of genres, by authors from every continent. Going forward, you will be able to apply what you have learned about global trends to help you understand the trajectories of individual countries. The first of the paper assignments in this class will help you become more adept at finding and analyzing historical sources. The second paper assignment will help you apply your historical knowledge to understand current events.