HISTORY 597W: THE ORIGINS AND EARLY
PHASES OF THE COLD WAR
Instructor: Nicholas Pappas
Office: Estill 326
Office phone: 294-3617
Home phone: 295-4985
E-Mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- This web seminar will study the origins and early phases of one of
the most complex and convoluted problems in contemporary world history--The
Cold War. The Cold War emerged as a problem in World history in the 1940's
following the defeat of the Axis in the Second World War. By the late 1940's,
two rival super powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, and their
alliances began a prolonged conflict, which lasted nearly fifty years.
Unlike previous conflicts, there were no direct military confrontations
between the super powers. Instead it was a prolonged struggle that pitted
the ideologies, economies, societies and cultures of the two blocs in contest
over which political/economic system would prevail--the single party socialist
system of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc or the pluralistic capitalist
(mixed) system of the United States and Western bloc. The development of
nuclear weapons and the arms race made direct confrontation virtually unthinkable.
Instead the conflict was fought with diplomacy, propaganda, espionage,
and irregular warfare in the former colonial world. There were, however,
diplomatic crises that came close to world war (Berlin blockade crisis
of 1948-1949, the Cuban Missile Crises of 1962, etc.), as well as bloody
indirect conflicts in Asia (Korea, Vietnam Afghanistan), Africa (Angola,
Ethiopia, and Somalia) and the Americas (Nicaragua, San Salvador). The
Cold War directly or indirectly affected all of humankind until its end
with the breakup of the Soviet Union and its bloc in the early 1990's.
Its aftereffects are still being gauged and assessed. This course will
intensely investigate how and why the Cold War began and look at the first
diplomatic and political confrontations in Europe up to the outbreak of
the Korean War. Among the topics we will study are: The Russian Revolution
and the West; Soviet foreign policy in the Interwar period; United States
recognition of the Soviet Union; the Soviet Union, the West and the Rise
of the Axis; the Munich Agreement and the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact;
the establishment of the anti-Axis alliance; the question of the second
front, lend lease and the Soviet Union, the politics of Axis occupation
and Anti-Axis resistance, the Big-Three meeting of Teheran, Yalta, and
Potsdam; the politics of liberation and Allied occupation; the German Question;
the Atomic bomb and the Cold War; the Soviet union and the War in the Pacific;
the territorial expansion of the Soviet Union versus the economic expansion
of the United States; the Sovietization of Eastern Europe; the Greek Civil
War; the Truman Doctrine; the Marshall Plan; the Tito-Stalin split; the
Berlin Blockade and Airlift; and the policies of the United States and
the Soviet Union towards decolonization.
PURPOSES AND OBJECTIVES OF THE COURSE:
- 1) To acquaint students with the origins and early history of the Cold
War, and in so doing, give them an understanding of the diplomatic and
military history of the 20th century.
- 2) To sharpen the students' skills in (a) extemporaneous discussion;
(b) prepared speaking; (c) historical interpretation; (d) research; and
CLASS SCHEDULE AND PROCEDURE:
- 1) The class schedule will consist of one assignment each week. The
format of each session will consist of: (a) reading of general book-length
studies of the Cold war and its early phases; (b) reading of web secondary
and primary web sources on specific problems and issues relating to the
week's topics; and (c) the writing of two short "reaction essays"
on some of those problems and issues.
- 2) At the end of reading each major study (usually every three or four
weeks), the members of the seminar will meet in a chat room to evaluate
- 3) Lists of readings, discussion questions, and other supplementary
materials will be distributed to students on Blackboard.
STUDENT REQUIREMENTS AND EVALUATION OF STUDENT PERFORMANCE:
- 1) Reading assignments: Students are expected to read text assignments
and enough web assignments to answer two short essays effectively. Readings
from the text and supplementary sources are given on a weekly basis. Each
student is expected to read general assignments (Gaddis, Gormly, Isaacson,
Zubok, Pleshakov) and specific assignments of primary and secondary on
a particular topic. The students are expected to discuss assigned text
readings in the scheduled chat rooms.
- 2) Discussion Forums: Students are expected to participate in
a discussion forum each week. On a weekly basis, the instuctor will present
two or more questions based upon the web and text readings. Within the
first three days of the week , students are to address these questions
in the discussion forum. Students should respond to the questions in one
or more paragraphs per question. They should substantiate their answers
and opinions with material culled from the web and text readings. In the
subsequent four days, the instructor will comment on the response in the
forum. In addition, students will react to one another's responses to the
questions. They can also make comments and pose questions regarding other
issues brought up in the forum. At the end of each week the instructor
will close and archive the previous week's discussion forum and introduce
the next week's forum. If all members of the seminar agree, a week's forum
can be extended. Each student's participation will be evaluated in the
following manner. A student can earn up to ten points for their answers
to the week's questions and ten poiints for their other comments, questions,
and reactions in the forum. (20 points per week; 300 points total for the
- 3) Four book reviews (2000 to 2500 words each). Each student
will write one book review on each of the four books assigned for this
course. They are called upon to analyze the author's views as to the origins
and early phases of the Cold War to 1950. Each essay will be worth 100
points for a total of 400 points.
- 4) Problem specialty: Each student will specialize in two particular
issues or problems of the Cold War during the course and will conduct further
readings into the historical roots and course of those problems. The student
is expected to relate chat room topics to the experience and issues of
their special problems. The student can choose to specialize on any of
the problems listed in the course outline.
- 5) Historiographical Essay. Each student is required to write
a historiographical essay on one of the problems or issues of their specialty.
The essay will cover the historiography of a particular problem of the
Cold War. Each historiographical essay will include a 4000 to 5000 word
text together with a bibliography. Copies of the text will be given to
the other members of the seminar via email.
- 6) Course evaluation and grades. Evaluation of student performance
will be based upon the following criteria:
- a) Discussion Forums (300 points or 30 percent of the course grade)
- b) Book reviews (400 points or 40 percent of the course grade).
- c Historiographical essay (200 points or 20 percent of the course grade)
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THE REST OF THE COURSE MATERIALS ARE FOUND ON BLACKBOARD