Yale For Life-Revisiting 1914-1945 Course Information

Revisiting 1914 - 1945
WWI Centennial and D-Day Anniversary
June 14 - 20, 2015
I came to see World War I . . . as the great seminal catastrophe of this century--the event which . . . lay at the heart of the failure and decline of this Western civilization"
-George Kennan, architect of America's post-WWII Cold War Strategy
"We cannot get away from the results of the [Second World] War"
-Joseph Stalin, 1945
The period from 1914 through 1945 saw arguably the greatest upheaval in human history. Those who greeted the new century had seen age-old cultural foundations and institutions questioned in the light of the revolutionary changes that rapid technological advancement wrought. Soon, however, the advent of Total War on a global scale dwarfed what had already seemed existential, replacing it with horror, death, and misery undreamed of by any.
Now, a century later, do we really know what happened, and why? Were the two World Wars really one conflict, a "Second Thirty Year's War?" Was it an isolated period in human history - an anomaly - or are there echoes of ancient, persistent themes in these events? Do we see lessons for our current world situation?
By comparing the two World Wars, we will investigate these questions, and more. We will take an approach familiar to all who have studied at Yale: we will use the tools of the humanities, of foundational texts and primary sources. We will look at the era from many angles, with an interdisciplinary lens.
In this course, join three of Yale's most gifted professors - world-leading experts on the period of World War, with a diversity of interest: Europe, USA, and the Ottoman Empire; and five outstanding guest professors with an astounding range of expertise, for a seven day set of seminars. This intensive, energizing experience will lead students in detailed discussions of many literary, philosophical, and historical texts. We will learn not of this era alone - we will learn how it is that one probes deeply into any complex period, and how in doing so, fundamental lessons emerge.
Those enrolled in Yale for Life: Revisiting 1914-1945 participate in three seminars daily: one with each of our two co-professor leads, and a third with the outstanding Guest Professor of the day on a topic that takes a unique angle on the period - from Rhetoric to Classics and beyond. Special events outside the classroom enhance the daily curriculum. These include private sessions with curators from Yale’s collections, film screenings, conversations with faculty members about issues related to the humanities at Yale, and other activities across the Yale campus.
The program is limited to 20 students.
A typical day in Yale for Life: Revisiting 1914 - 1945 looks like this:
7:45 am Breakfast
9:00 am Seminar I
10:15 am Break
10:30 am Seminar II
12/noon Lunch
1:15 pm Guest Professor Seminar
3:30 pm Break
4:00 pm Special activity
4:45 pm Free time
6:00 pm Dinner
Course and daily seminar leaders:
Jay Winter, Charles J. Stille Professor of History
Beverly Gage, Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Alan Mikhail, Professor of History
Guest Professors:
Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History
Paul Bracken, Professor of Management & Professor of Political Science
Katie Trumpener, Emily Sanford Professor of Comparative Literature & English
Maurice Samuels, Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French
Dudley Andrew, R. Selden Rose Professor of Film and Comparative Literature
Course materials, including syllabus, will be sent to registered participants well in advance of the course.