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Wilfrid Laurier University Laurier Brantford
October 18, 2017
Canadian Excellence

CT 352 BR syllabus Winter 2014 (revised 6 January)

Contemporary Studies 352


Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford Campus

Winter 2014

Instructor: Dr. David H. Olivier


Office: RCW 318

Office Hours: Tuesdays 0900-1100, or by appointment

(Tuesday 7 January only: 0845-1000)

Office Telephone: 519.756.8228 x.5516

Class Times: Mondays, 1900-2200

Classroom: RCW 202

Course Description:

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared that “War is the mother of everything.” Certainly, it has been a feature of life since the beginning of recorded history and has played a central role in the 20th and 21st centuries. This course will explore the phenomenon of war, not simply as a series of battles in which armies collide but as a complex psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual event that has helped shape the world in which we live today.

Course Objectives:

This course is intended to convey the complexity of war, from the various causes of conflicts, through the mixed repercussions of war on societies and individuals, to the numerous theories that have been developed to avert conflict in international relations. By the end of this course, students will be expected to:

1) understand major theories of how wars begin;

2) appreciate the impact of combat on those individuals (soldiers, medical staff, journalists, and civilians) caught up in the fighting;

3) grasp the ways in which the major wars of the 20th century wrought tremendous change in the societies which fought them;

4) recognize the ways in which war and pacifism have become interconnected.

Grading for Course:

Seminar Participation: 20%

Assignment I, due 3 February: 20%

Assignment II, due 24 March: 30%

Final Examination: 30%

Course Structure:

The course consists of one class per week, roughly 2 hours and fifty minutes long, with a break usually around the midway point (slightly different on movie nights). Classes will consist of lectures, viewing films, and seminar discussions based on the movie and accompanying readings. The film ratings are included on the course outline. Some films may contain mature themes, violence, strong language, and sexual content. Students are advised accordingly.


The texts for the course are:

Charles Townshend, ed. Oxford History of Modern War (New Edition)

Christopher Coker, Ethics and War in the 21st Century

Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

These texts will be available for purchase at the Brantford branch of the WLU Bookstore or may be purchased on-line through or Chapter-Indigo. Students are reminded to compare prices before purchasing.

Additional Resources:

On-line Journals:

Students will find much useful information in journals available at no cost through the WLU Library website. If searching for a particular subject, title, or author, students are recommended to consult the electronic databases Historical Abstracts and Humanities On-line. If you know the specific journal name, or wish to browse a journal’s table of contents, use the Primo link to e-Journals.

Specific journals which may prove useful include:

Armed Forces and Society

Asian Security

Central European History

Cold War History

Comparative Strategy

Conflict, Security, and Development

Conflict Management and Peace Science

Contemporary Security Policy

Cooperation and Conflict

Defence Studies

Defence and Peace Economics

Defense and Security Analysis

Democracy and Security

Diplomacy and Statecraft

Diplomatic History

Intelligence and National Security

International Peacekeeping

International Relations

International Security

International Studies Review

International Studies Quarterly

Journal of Peace Research

Journal of Military Ethics

Media, War, and Conflict

Military Psychology

New Perspectives Quarterly

Peace and Conflict Studies

Peace and Conflict

Security Studies

Security Dialogue

Small Wars and Insurgencies

Strategic Comment

Strategic Analysis

Studies in Conflict and Terrorism

Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

Terrorism and Political Violence

The RUSI Journal

The Journal of Conflict Resolution

The Journal of Strategic Studies

The Journal of Modern History

The Military Balance

The Adelphi Papers

The Journal of Contemporary History

The Journal of Military History*

The American Historical Review

War in History

The Nonproliferation Review

* - this journal is now restricted in access; I have a personal subscription and can provide recent articles on request

The September 2007 issue (13:9) of Violence Against Women is a theme issue devoted to the topic of sexual assault in the US armed forces, and is accessible through e-Journals.

The Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic, and Disarmament Studies will also have useful information on Canadian participation in conflicts, especially the recent conflict in Afghanistan.

The US Army War College Quarterly, Parameters, is available at

The United States Library of Congress is amassing a collection of podcasts, audio, and video interviews with US military veterans of wars (First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq), available at

The United States Military Academy at West Point has established the Center for Oral History, an online research center gathering the personal stories of American service men and women of all ranks – beginning with those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and going back to veterans of Vietnam, Korea, World War II and other campaigns.

The Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, published by the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, good for Canadian military topics:

The Minerva Center, which studies women and war and women in the military, is here:

There is also useful material in the various discussions on books and journal articles at the

H-Diplo Roundtables, available at

Written Assignments:

There are two written assignments for this course. Students are reminded that proper format for assignments must be used, including a title page and bibliography, and citations for direct quotations, paraphrased items, or obscure or contentious points (either by footnote or endnote).

Citation Style:

All essays will be written following the Turabian style of citation, a variation of the Chicago Manual of Style. For examples of Turabian, please consult the WLU website and follow the links. Please note that the preferred method of Turabian is the footnote/endnote style. Regardless of which version is used, all citations must include the correct page number(s) from which the citation was drawn.

Assignment I: Book Review

Due Date: 3 February

Length: 1500-2000 words, not including title page or bibliography

Format: double-spaced, 11- or 12-point font, 1" margins on all sides

Students will be asked to submit a review of a book related to the course themes, subject to the instructor’s approval.

The review will cover the following points:

- what is the author’s argument?

- what evidence does the author provide to support that argument?

- how effective is the argument?

- are there any elements which the author seems to miss or provides inadequate evidence?

The Assignment is to include two reviews of the work taken from academic sources. (Reviews from or other vendors are not permitted.) Reviews may be found by searching through the library website ( or from an academic on-line review site such as H-Net Book Reviews ( Be aware that single-paragraph ‘quick’ reviews designed for purchasing agents at public libraries, such as Publishers Weekly or Kirkus Reviews, are also unsatisfactory for this assignment.

Students are expected to note the key issues raised by the reviewers, and if there are any issues raised by the reviewers with which the student disagrees. Copies of the reviews must be attached to the submitted Assignment. (If possible, please submit reviews as PDF printouts.)

There are several limitations on the selection of a book:

1. No novels or other works of fiction may be used;

2. Works should relate primarily to events or developments after the end of the Second World War (this is a CT course); exceptions will be permitted for classic texts on the subject of war (e.g. Carl von Clausewitz, On War; Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History), or works on a specific topic such as the development of nuclear weapons or psychological studies (e.g. Dave Grossman, On Killing; Joanna Bourke, An Intimate History of Killing);

3. Academic works are preferred to populist studies or memoirs, but the latter two are not necessarily excluded;

4. If an academic work which is a collection of essays by several authors is chosen, please speak to the instructor for the best way to write a review of such a work.

Assignment II: Critical Essay

Due Date: 24 March

Length: 3000-3500 words, not including title page or bibliography

Format: double-spaced, 11- or 12-point font, 1" margins on all sides

The assignment must be written on a topic suggested by the subjects covered in this course, and cover a topic which is post-1945. The specific topic of the assignment is at the discretion of the student, but must be approved in advance by the instructor. Students must make use of a minimum of three sources, not counting course texts, for each assignment. The use of primary source material is greatly encouraged.

A preliminary one-page outline, consisting of a thesis statement and a preliminary bibliography, must be submitted for approval by 24 February. The outline will be returned to students as approval of the topic, or will contain suggestions for further research or an amended thesis. Students must attach the original copy of the outline, containing the instructor’s comments, to their completed assignment.

Suggested topics for this assignment include, but are not limited to, the following:

- the position of women in the military

- the place of conscription in modern society

- the relationship between the military and the government

- the relationship between the military and weapons manufacturers

- just and unjust war

- humanitarian intervention and responsibility to protect (R2P), including possible ethical ramifications

- peace movements, disarmament movements, and alternatives to war

- peacekeeping, disaster response, and other non-traditional roles for the military

- child soldiers

- chemical, biological, or technological enhancement of soldiers

- war and weapons of mass destruction (WMD)

- war and international law

- war and non-state agents

- war and the media


Wilfrid Laurier University uses software that can check for plagiarism. If requested to do so by the instructor, students may are required to submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism. (Approved by Senate May 14, 2002)

Late Assignments [N.B.: This has changed from previous years]

An essay handed in on or before the scheduled due date will be graded and receive full comments. The instructor will endeavour to return such assignments as soon as possible.

An essay handed in up to seven days after the scheduled due date will be graded without penalty but will receive limited written comments.

An essay handed in more than seven days after the scheduled due date will be graded with a penalty of 10% and will not receive any written comments.

Extensions will be granted only in exceptional circumstances and for compassionate reasons. Never assume an extension will automatically be granted or rejected; always speak to the instructor in advance if, for any reason, there will be a delay in handing in the assignment on the due date.

Final Examination

The final exam will test students’ understanding of the material and ability to analyse the material and draw their own conclusions. The exam is worth 30% of the final grade.

CT Essay Competition:

Each year the CT Association sponsors an essay-writing competition, with prizes awarded in categories according to the course level. Students who have written a paper which received a grade of A are encouraged to enter their essay; students who have written a paper which received a grade of A+ are strongly encouraged to enter.

Assignment instructions as well as a hard copy of each essay should be submitted to the office of the Academic Programme Assistant (RCW 304). Please note that decisions will not be made until after the completion of the Winter term.

There will be three separate categories: 1) Year 1 and Year 2 students; 2) Year 3 students; 3) Year 4 students. The essay judged to be the best in each category will earn a $100 prize.

Issues of Privacy and Freedom of Information

Wilfrid Laurier University is required by provincial law to abide by certain standards regarding privacy of personal information. To that end, essays will not be left outside the instructor’s office for pick-up; they will be available in class or during office hours. Similarly, grades will not be posted in a public place. As well, because e-mail cannot be guaranteed as to its security, no grade shall be communicated to students via e-mail.

E-mail Communication

Students are reminded that all e-mail communication with faculty must be through the student’s WLU e-mail account. University anti-spam filters are very likely to regard Hotmail or other generic e-mail providers as sources of spam and reject them. If you have not received acknowledgement of an e-mail within 48 hours, assume it has not been received.


6 January: Course Introduction/The Theory and Practice of Why Wars Begin

reading: Townshend, ch.1

13 January: War and the Industrial Age

reading: Townshend, chs.2-4

20 January: Mechanized War and Mass Armies

reading: Townshend, chs.5-8

27 January: Seminar 1 – Men at War

movie: Jarhead (18A) – 2005, d. Sam Mendes

reading: Townshend, chs.9 & 12

3 February: Assignment I due

Non-Combatants/Small Warriors

reading: Townshend, ch.15

10 February: Seminar 2 – Soldiers of Misfortune: Children and War

movie: Rebelle [War Witch] (PG) – 2012, d. Kim Nguyen

reading: Beah, A Long Way Gone

17 February: no classes, Reading Week

24 February: Preliminary Outline due

Women and War/Small Wars

reading: Townshend, chs. 10 & 16

3 March: The Laws of Armed Conflict/The Ethics of War

reading: Coker, Ethics and War in the 21st Century

10 March: War and Remembrance/Seminar 3 – The Ethics of War

reading: based on Coker and the ROE handout

17 March: Weapons of Mass Destruction/Humanitarian Intervention

reading: Townshend, chs. 12 & 18

24 March: Assignment II due

Seminar 4 – Contemporary War

movie: Restrepo (14A) – 2010, d.Sebastian Junger & Tim Hetherington

readings: based on the cumulative elements of the course

31 March: The Future of War?/Evaluations, Review, and Conclusion