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HSTAS 265 A: The Viet Nam Wars

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:10am - 11:20am
PAA A212
Joint Sections: 
JSIS A 265 A
Professor Christoph Giebel
Christoph Giebel

Syllabus Description:

IMPORTANT:  This 2020 Summer B term course enrolls and welcomes anybody, but also has the added bonus of fulfilling a prerequisite for a planned 2021 UW Study Abroad program in Viet Nam, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 24 - Sep. 18, 2021, and led by Prof. Giebel in conjunction with the NGO PeaceTrees Viet Nam. Since 2007, Prof. Giebel and PeaceTrees have collaborated in eight UW summer programs in Viet Nam, focused on measures taken to alleviate enduring legacies of war in Central Viet Nam, in particular the prevalence of unexploded ordnance (UXO). These UW Study Abroad programs have received highest ratings by participants and the 2021 program will likely be its penultimate iteration. Students interested in the 2021 UW Viet Nam program are encouraged to enroll in this 2020 summer course.

             This is an in-depth, lecture-driven and reading-intensive analysis of recent Vietnamese history and the struggles for independence and national unification vis-a-vis French colonialism, Japanese occupation, American intervention, and deep internal divisions.  It covers the historical roots and the contemporary contexts of revolution and war, various objectives and motivations of its Vietnamese participants, and the enormous human costs suffered by the wars' victims.  It emphasizes profound changes brought about in Vietnamese culture and society and probes the wars' lasting political, economic, moral, and intellectual legacies in contemporary, post-socialist Viet Nam.

            Reflecting the wide array of issues, ideologies, and participants involved in the conflicts, the course will employ a multi-faceted approach, including a basic textbook, primary sources (in English), several memoirs, literature, scholarly articles, and interspersed brief visual documentaries.  Particular attention will be paid to exposing various popular misconceptions and biased spatial representations about the wars, as well as various and often conflicting rhetorical frames of the warring sides.  Classes will be geared towards active learning and conducted in a combination of lectures and discussions.  Please allot enough daily reading time for the duration of the course.

           This course has been taught at UW well over 20 years and has consistently received highest student evaluations and enthusiastic recommendations.

Catalog Description: 
Recent Vietnamese history and struggles for independence and national unification vis-a-vis French colonialism, Japanese occupation, American intervention, and internal divisions. Covers historical roots and contemporary contexts of revolution and war, objectives and motivations of participants, and the enormous human costs. Emphasizes socio-cultural changes and wars' legacies. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 265.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
February 14, 2020 - 4:10am