History 461-80, Cook

Welcome Letter for COLLOQUIUM: On War


Theodore F. Cook





Course No. & Section:



(973) 720-2243

Office Hours:

Atrium 206

Hello and welcome to COLLOQUIUM: On War!

HIST 461-80 Colloquium: On War (cross-listed with ASN 480-80 Asian Studies Senior Seminar) is a capstone course intended mainly for majors, and any serious students of human conflict, who would like to explore a creative and free-wheeling approach to the study of a subject that may be traced back through the cultural heritage of most Human Civilizations.

This capstone course in History and Asian Studies is an introduction to the study of "War" (broadly defined) and should be a chance to engage in a free-wheeling academic exchange of views in the "colloquium" format. So, what is a "Colloquium"? One definition of the word is this: colloquium |k?'lokwe?m| noun ( pl. -quiums or -quia |-kwe?|) an academic conference or seminar. ORIGIN late 16th cent. (denoting a conversation or dialogue): from Latin, from colloqui 'to converse,' from col- 'together' + loqui 'to talk.'


As an online class most of our interaction and "talk" will be "virtual", but that may be seen as an opportunity, as well, since it will allow each member of the colloquium to present his or her evolving project to a receptive audience that will then be prepared to dig into their own experience and exercise their own research skills to comment intelligently and constructively on the work of their fellows. I will try to play a role here, but this is a "conversation" and not a lecture and it is not a spectator sport, either. We all must be fully engaged for this experience to work well for you. There are a lot of readings, but this is a Senior-level capstone and we will be reading them together to learn how better to take books apart and put our own arguments together.

I see this class as a chance to combine the traditional Seminar with an open-ended "bring with you what you want to share" approach to this course. As a 400-level History course and capstone, we will see that you produce a final product (in terms of a research paper, web site, original annotated syllabus, or historiographical essay) which is the result of your personal efforts, but I would like to have us think that we can evolve themes over the term that will lead in the end to a series of shared experiences. Students in Asian Studies will, naturally, be expected to focus on a theme that allows you to bring to bear your studies, but you are not restricted to an "oriental" theme, but are free to seek to place what you have learned about Asia into global or universal human perspective.


The course hinges on broad reading and then deep analysis of certain ideas and themes together and individually. There are a lot of books on the reading list and we will use them all (See the Banner Listing for what the bookstore has in stock), but I encourage all to seek creative ways to acquire the least expensive versions and to share resources where possible. Among the key early readings, in order of appearance, are the following. There are others we will be reading in the course of the term, but these fit here:
* Michael Howard (Sir), War in European History (Oxford, 2nd edition, 2009) 9780199546190.
* John Keegan, The Face of Battle; A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo & the Somme (Viking, 1976) (Vintage pb, 1977), now Penguin ISBN 9780140048971
* Caleb Carr (ed.), The Book of War: Sun-Tzu, The Art of Warfare & Karl von Clausewitz On War. by Carl von Clausewitz, Sun-Tzu, Sun Zi, Caleb Carr (Editor), (The Modern Library, 2000) 978-03754777.
* Eric T. Dean, Shook over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress in the Civil War and Vietnam (Harvard) ISBN 9780674806528.


Your final grade will be based on three broad areas of activity pursued throughout the course: 1) CLASS DISCUSSION PARTICIPATION each week;

2) CLASS LEADERSHIP when you and one or two other students (along with the instructor of course) will be responsible for seeing that our Colloquium engages in the colloquy, or discussion, that informs us all of the topic for that week- you will be discussion "instigators" online rather than providing content;

3) A SPECIAL RESEARCH PROJECT pursued throughout the semester and developed as we discuss the theme of war in our colloquium and will result in a product you will be able to share with the class and take with you from this course should you ever need to point to a research project that you have accomplished. It could, for example be a well researched article on a specific topic; a concise, but detailed historiographical analysis of writing on a particular sub-topic; a web site that makes available on the WWW the results of your research in electronic form; or it could even be a project with even more creative dimensions, but it will be developed fairly early in the course and then worked on with your peers throughout the semester.

How to Access Blackboard:
To log on to Bb point your web browser to http://bb.wpunj.edu and click the Login button in the upper left. Then enter your username and password in the spaces provided and click login again -- you'll find your course Bb sites listed on the right.

Some things to be aware of as you work with Blackboard:

  1. You probably won't find all your courses listed; the only ones that will appear are those that have been activated by the professor teaching the course. Professors who don't use Blackboard will not activate their courses.
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  3. If you are already logged in to the WPUNJ system through WPConnect you won't have to re-enter your username and password -- just click the first login button.
  4. Blackboard documentation can be found in two places: at Bb Home, http://bb.wpunj.edu, before one logs in, and in the Blackboard Support tab after one has logged on.
  5. You can always obtain Bb help by using the Problem Report form at http://bb.wpunj.edu , or by going to it directly at: https://liberty.wpunj.edu/bb/support-center/ .

WPUNJ Student Email:
To access WPUNJ Student Email point your web browser to http://wpconnect.wpunj.edu, enter your username and password, then select the Mail tab. If you are logging on for the first time you'll be asked to set your time zone and language.

Blackboard courses will use student email; third-party email addresses will not work on Bb

Good luck and have fun in the course! Theodore F. Cook