Making of the Contemporary World
From the onset of the Cold War until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, for more than 40 years, the potential of vast annihilation colored international as well as local history. As Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, said at an international conference in 1955, "Today in the world, not only because of the presence of these two colossuses [the United States and Soviet Union], but also because of the coming of the atomic and hydrogen-bomb age, the concept of war, of peace, of politics, has changed." This seminar explores those changes: tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., the creation of new states out of formerly colonized lands, a shift in world power from Western Europe to the United States, and the ways in which people adjusted to those changes through art, culture, politics and economies of everyday life. This history continues to shape our lives. Every week the seminar sections will meet jointly for lecture, films, etc. and separately for discussion of source readings. In addition to the rich historical material that the course addresses, students will practice the basic skills of the historian: asking questions, finding and analyzing relevant documents and other sources, identifying different interpretations of those sources, and constructing well-reasoned arguments based on available evidence.