Course Description and Objectives This course covers twentieth century civilization with an emphasis on the role of risk in society. To do so, we consider first how risk is perceived from various disciplines. From the humanities we consider fiction, poetry, cinema, and from the social sciences we turn to history, economics, psychology, politics. And while the foundations of risk can be found in statistics and the natural sciences, our focus will be on the impact of risk in a social context. While history will shape the organizational thrust of the course, through a series of readings and presentations, students will examine how various disciplines reflect perceptions of risk in terms of major events of the twentieth century.
While risk in an historical setting will serve as an organizational perspective for the course, some of the topics to be covered can be viewed in an interrelated fashion. They include: economic freedom, political freedom, and political legitimacy, and how these questions reflect the human condition through the humanities and through participation in civil society.
Over the semester, students will read various texts either in their entirety or selections thereof, and present oral and written presentations on the assigned materials. Students will be required to write several essays of varying lengths throughout the course. For each short essay, students will be required to show how a work of literature relates to a larger social theme, regardless of whether the work had a conscious intention to do so.
Key to this process will be an ongoing dialogue relating to the definitions of risk and how they have been perceived and are perceived by social actors ranging from political leaders, to economic policymakers, to creative artists and writers. In so doing, we will see how perceptions of risk are critical to the choices that actors make when vested with the authority to do so. In so doing, we will look to insights from twentieth century experience that may provide guidance for the future.
Class sessions are organized around a series of background readings. Students will be required to lead a discussion of key themes for a given session. In addition, they will submit written essays, whose dimensions are spelled out below, at various points through the course. These essays are to draw on works outside the required texts, and whose purpose is to link works in the humanities with perceptions of risk and how institutions are affected. Throughout the course, periodic use will be made of the course website, the general URL for which is: http://netdrive.montclair.edu/~lebelp/
Montclair State University
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Course Syllabus HONP102P. LeBel
20th Century Civilization Required Texts:
Evans, Harold (2000). The American Century, paperback edition. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf)
Galbraith, J.K. (1997, 1954). The Great Crash of 1929, paperback edition. (New York: Houghton Mifflin)
Judt, Tony (2004) Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, paperback edition. (New York: Penguin Books)
Prigogine, Ilya (2002). The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature. (New York: The Free Press)
Strahan, Hew (2003). The First World War, paperback edition. (New York: Simon & Schuster).
Weber, Max (2002, 1905). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, paperback edition. (New York: Penguin Books).
Students will draw on materials cited in the syllabus reading list and/or as approved by the instructor for particular class sessions and student presentations.
A. How does the 20th century inform our understanding of civilization?
Class 1 (9/14/09 – Civilization in the Twentieth Century – What do we mean by civilization and how does risk enter into the definition? 1. Ilya Prigogine, (1-106). Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Kevin Bales (1999), Disposable People; 2. H. Stuart Hughes (1958), Consciousness and Society: The Reorientation of European Social Thought, 1890-1930; 3. Karl Schorske (1980), Fin de Siècle Vienna; 4. William Barrett (1962), Irrational Man; 5. W.E.B. DuBois (1903), The Souls of Black Folk; Susan Faludi (1991), Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women; Henry R. Nau (1990), The Myth of America’s Decline; Discussion Questions: 1. What are the key elements that define twentieth century civilization? 2. How do societies perceive risk and create institutions for its management? 3. What can natural and social science tell us about risk? 4. Do perceptions of risk lead to discriminatory behavior? 5. How do the arts characterize risk and what implications are there for the notion of civilization?
Class 2 (9/21/09) – Civilization in War and Peace – The Role of Nation-States. 1. Evans (1-105) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. William L. Shirer (1994, 1969), The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry Into the Fall of France in 1940; 2. David Fromkin (1989), A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East; 3. David Keys (1999), Catastrophe: A Quest for the Origins of the Modern World; 4. Edmund Morris (2001). Theodore Rex; Discussion Questions: 1. Are nation-states politically legitimate? 2. Do nation-states manage risk better than alternative political structures; 3. How do nation-states compare to empires in terms of twentieth century configurations? 4. How does imperialism reinforce either empire or nation-states? 5. What determines international alliances and how does risk affect their shape and conduct?
Class 3 (9/28/09)– Civilization and Its Discontents – Tolerance and Intolerance in modern society. 1. Harold Evans (106-179) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Sigmund Freud (1930), Civilization and Its Discontents; 2. Lucy S. Dawidowicz (1975), The War Against the Jews 1933-1945; 3. Ralph Ellison (1953), Invisible Man; 4. Frantz Fanon (1961), The Wretched of the Earth; 5. Albert Hourani (1991), A History of the Arab Peoples. Discussion Questions: 1. How has the level of religious, racial, and ethnic tolerance evolved in the context of twentieth century civilizations? 2. How has tolerance been emphasized in the evolution of twentieth century political institutions at a national and international level? 3. Is the presence of intolerance a sufficient basis for war among nation-states, i.e., how can one define the morality of nation states in the context of social intolerance? 4. Does the presence of intolerance expand the level of risk and political illegitimacy in society and justify its overthrow? 5. What institutional mechanisms exist for expanding tolerance in modern society? Short Paper Number One Submission Deadline. Term Paper Topic Proposal Submission Deadline. B. How has the twentieth century embraced commerce and technology?
Class 4 (10/05/09– Commerce and the evolution of technological innovation – the rise of the age of mass consumption. 1. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1-183). Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Joseph A. Schumpeter (1934, 1911), The Theory of Economic Development; (1942) Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy; 2. Tim Berners-Lee (1999), Weaving the Web: Origins and Future of the World Wide Web; 3. Jennet Conant (2002), Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changed the Course of World War II; 4. Jared Diamond (1997), Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies; 5; Albert Einsein (1916), The General Theory of Relativity; Discussion Questions: 1. Does capitalism depend on a “Protestant” ethic or does it embody more universal instincts? 2. How is innovation nurtured in modern society, and does it depend on culture or simply a set of incentives? 3. How do information structures affect the ability to innovate in contemporary society? 4. Where does entrepreneurship fit in the role of technological innovation and do some societies place more incentives for its expansion than others? 5. Do nation-states lend themselves better than alternative institutions to the growth of innovation and technology?
Class 5 (10/12/09)– Risk in the rhythms of the twentieth century economy – booms and busts in economic activity. 1. J.K. Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929 (1-194). Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz (1963), A Monetary History of the United States, 1857-1960; 2. Amity Shlaes (2007), The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression; 3. John Maynard Keynes (1936), The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money; 6. Matthew Josephson (1934), The Robber Barons: The Classic Account of the Influential Capitalists Who Transformed America’s Future; Discussion Questions: 1. Why do booms and busts exist in economies? 2. Why was the Great Depression of the 1930s more severe than in other periods? 3. Do fluctuations in economic activity increase or reduce the level of risk aversion across individuals and institutions? 4. How did the New Deal affect the magnitude of the Great Depression and what lessons does it hold for our times? 5. What roles did the Bank for International Settlements and the League of Nations have in pre-war globalization and how did this affect relations among nation-states?
Class 6 (10/19/09) – Globalization as a metaphor for collapsing time and space – variations in international trade and investment. 1. Harold Evans (180-281) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. V.I. Lenin (1916), Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism; 2. Norman Angell (1911), The Great Illusion; 3. John Maynard Keynes (1921), The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Discussion Questions: 1. How did colonization in the 19th century affect capital flows in the early 20t? 2. What happened to international trade and investment in the 1920s and 1930s? 3. What effects did the Great Depression have on international investment flows? 4. How did globalization affect popular culture in the industrialized world? 5. In what ways were international governance institutions altered by globalization? Short Paper Number Two Submission Deadline. Term Paper Preliminary Bibliography Submission Deadline. C. How has war shaped our notions of political legitimacy in space and time?
Class 7 (10/26/09) – Origins and Consequences of the First World War – Do wars resolve or extend conflicts to another day? 1. Hew Strahan (1-139) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Martin Gilbert (1994), The First World War; 2. Margaret Macmillan (2001), Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World; 3. Adam Hochschild (1998), King Leopold’s Ghost; 4. Barbara Tuchman (1962), August 1914; 5. Bertram Wolfe (1950), Three Who Made a Revolution; 6. John Maynard Keynes (1921) The Economic Consequences of the Peace; 7. Etienne Mantoux (1946), The Carthaginian PeaceDiscussion Questions: 1. In what ways did European colonialism affect the onset of the First World War? 2. How did communications technology affect the structure of alliances that drove military engagements by nation-states? 3. What effects on the conduct of the war were there by the Russian revolution and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk? 4. How did the collapse of fighting in October 1918 lead to the armistice of November and what effects did this have on the ensuing negotiations at the Paris peace negotiations? 5. How did Wilson’s notion of self-determination shape the conduct of international relations in the aftermath of World War I?
Class 8 (11/02/09) – Origins and Consequences of the Second World War – The end of the old order in Europe and the rise of the United States. 1. Hew Strahan (157-332). 2. Evans (282-385). Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. A.J.P. Taylor (1961), The Origins of the Second World War; 2. Julian Jackson (2001), France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944; 3. B.H. Liddell Hart (1970), History of the Second World War; 4. William L. Shirer (1960) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; 5. Ernest R. May (2000). Strange Victory: Hitler’s Conquest of France; 6. John F. Kennedy (1940), Why England Slept; 7. Constantine Pleshakov (2005), Stalin’s Folly; 8. Harrison Salisbury (1969). The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad; 9. Elie Wiesel (2006, 1958), Night; 10. Alan Bullock (1952), Hitler, A Study in Tyranny. Discussion Questions: 1. How did war reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles lead to the collapse of world trade in the 1930’s? 2. How did the Weimar Republic collapse and lead to the rise of Adolf Hitler? 3. How did the Great Depression affect trans-Atlantic economic relations and the rise of isolationism in the United States? 4. Was Pearl Harbor the only determinant of the U.S. decision to enter World War II? 5. How did war have an impact on popular culture in Europe and in the U.S.? 6. In what ways did the Nuremburg Trials set the context for the emergence of the United Nations? Short Paper Number Three Submission Deadline. Term Paper Revised Bibliography and Outline Submission Deadline. Class 9 (11/09/09) – Wars without ends and the question of political legitimacy – postwar conflicts on variable scales. 1.Tony Judt (1-128); 2. Evans (386-451) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Robert Conquest (1996), The Great Terror, A Reassessment; 2. Robert O. Paxton (2004), The Anatomy of Fascism; 3. Chinweizu (1975), The West and the Rest of Us; 4. Stanley Karnow (1983), Vietnam: A History; 5. David Halberstam (1972), The Best and the Brightest; 6. Jules Roy (2002, 1965) , The Battle of Dienbienphu; 7. Michael Walzer (2006, 1977), Just and Unjust Wars; Discussion Questions: 1. In what ways did the creation of the United Nations overcome the weaknesses of the League of Nations? 2. How did the postwar era lead to decolonization by European states? 3. How did international trade and investment revive in the postwar era and what effects did it have on international financial institutions? 4. How did the Cold War emerge and in what ways did it affect trans-Atlantic ties, Soviet-United States relationships, and relationships between China under Mao Tse Tung and the rest of the world? 5. In what ways did economic factors shape the demise of the Soviet Union and the post Cold War era?
D. How have institutions managed peace in the world?
Class 10 (11/16/09) – The hierarchy of governance systems through time – From political absolutism to anarchy in the twentieth century. 1.Tony Judt (129-323); 2. Evans (452-521) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Anthony Sampson (1977), The Arms Bazaar; 2. Andrew J. Pierre (1982), The Global Politics of Arms Sales; 3. Paul Kennedy (1987), The Rise and Fall of Great Powers; 4. Ziuddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (2003), Why Do People Hate America?; 5. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1974), All The President’s Men; Discussion Questions: 1. In what ways have governance institutions affirmed Lord Acton’s statement about the corruption of power? 2. How does risk shape the allocation of political power across transnational, national, and local institutions? 3. Did Watergate undermine the legitimacy of political institutions in the United States, and how did this compare to previous struggles over constitutional authority? 4. How have emerging nation-states affirmed or not the principle of self-determination? 5. How did the postwar era shape social conformity and diversity in popular culture?
Class 11 (11/23/09) – The idea of democracy as a governing principle – Self-determination as an organizing principle for international and local governance. 1.Tony Judt (324-504); 2. Evans (522-565) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Anthony Downs (1957), An Economic Theory of Democracy; 2. Charles A. Beard (1913), An Economic Interpretation of the American Constitution; 3. Wentworth Ofuatey-Kodjoe (1977), The Principle of Self-Determination in International Law; 4. Alistair Horne (1977), A Savage War of Peace, Algeria, 1954-1962; Discussion Questions: 1. Does popular democracy reinforce the legitimacy of nation-states? 2. How have international institutions shaped the evolution of political rights and civil liberties throughout the world? 3. Has the spread of democratic institutions reduced the level of military conflicts? 4. How did decolonization shape post-colonial social and political relations in terms of the rise of local ethnic and religious conflicts? 5. What institutional models of governance have emerged in the contest for political legitimacy and how have perceptions of risk shaped their dimensions?
E. What choices do we have in managing risk for a politically legitimate future?
Class 12 (11/30/09) – How do governments reflect attitudes toward risk? – Government as the ultimate risk manager. 1 Tony Judt (505-700); 2. Harold Evants (586-611) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. J.K. Galbraith (1978), The Age of Uncertainty; 2. Lilliam Hellman (2000, 1976), Scoundrel Time; 3. Charles J. Hitch and Roland N. McKean (1965), The Economics of Defense in the Nuclear Age; 4. Jane Jacobs (1961), The Life and Death of Great American Cities; 5. Robert Kagan (2002), Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order; Discussion Questions: 1. How does government affect the structure and level of economic activity? 2. In what ways do perceptions of risk increase or reduce the assignment of economic functions to the public sector? 3. How has the emergence of the European Union affected the structure of international governance, including the evolution of governance in China, Africa, and Latin America? 4. Does the evolution of the modern welfare state reinforce or reduce risk aversion in economic activity? 5. How have governments devolved political authority in the context of risk sharing?
Class 13 (12/07/09) – How do actions by government alter responses to risk? – Moral hazard in everyday life. 1.Tony Judt (701-831); 2. Harold Evans (612-652) Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. George Gill (1996), The League of Nations: From 1929 to 1946; 2. Jacob S. Hacker (2006), The Great Risk Shift; 3. Andrew Hodges (1983), Alan Turing: The Enigma of Intelligence; 4. Chalmers Johnson (2000), Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire; 5. George Lakoff (2002, 1996), Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think; 6. Laurence Martin (1982), The Changing Face of Nuclear Warfare; 7. David A. Moss (2002), When All Else Fails: Government as the Ultimate Risk Manager; Discussion Questions: 1. Does the expansion of government create conditions of moral hazard by national and sub-national actors? 2. How does information technology affect the ability of government to manage varying forms of risk? 3. How does the spread of nuclear technology reduce or expand the level of international political risk? 4. What responses to government as a risk manager translate into forms of popular culture? 5. Does government enhance or reduce the level of international economic interdependence? 6. How has the environment been affected by policies to promote economic growth and development? Term Paper Submission Deadline Class 14 (12/09/09) – Redefining a politically legitimate future – Crafting institutions to create a sustainable future. 1. Ilya Prigogine (107-189); 2. Harold Evans (653-664). Supplementary Optional Readings: 1. Jared Diamond (2005), Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed; 2. Jürgen Habermas (1973), Legitimation Crisis; 3. Samuel P. Huntington (1996), The Clash of Civilizatoins and the Remaking of World Order; 4. Walter Isard (1988), Arms Races, Arms Control, and Conflict Analysis; 5. Henry Kissinger (2001), Does America Need a Foreign Policy?; 6. Walter Russell Mead (2004), Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America’s Grand Strategy in a World at Risk; 7. John Rawls (1971), A Theory of Justice; 8. Robert Nozick (1974), Anarchy, State, and Utopia; 9. Robert D. Putnam (2000), Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community; Discussion Questions: 1. How has the twentieth century altered the notion of political legitimacy? 2. What institutions have emerged to manage economic, political, social, and environmental risk? 3. In what ways do expressions of popular culture reinforce perceptions of risk? 4. What institutional alternatives exist to create a more sustainable future? 5. What are the implications of a sustainable future for civic engagement and how has the experience of the twentieth century informed them?
There are no standard examinations in this course. Evaluation of student performance will be based on three categories of work:
Classrooom discussions (25 percent): In interaction with the instructor, students will lead classroom discussions of assigned readings and topical questions. This is a core activity for all students in each session, with a designated student serving as class leader.
Periodic short papers (30 percent, 10 percent each): Students will prepare three short papers, each of which will be 5-8 pages in length and which will address key questions for an assigned class. Each paper is to be single spaced, fully justified, and contain footnote sources and a standard bibliography of materials relevant to each session. Each paper is to link the theme of risk to a work of literature, poetry, or film, and examine how a particular work reflects perceptions of risk at the level of the individual as well as that of society.
Research paper (40 percent): Each student is to select a research topic for a paper that will examine in depth a critical issue related to the theme of the course. Drawing on risk, it will not repeat any theme already covered in a shorter paper, and will utilize non-fiction sources given in the syllabus, along with other source materials that will be periodically reviewed by the instructor according to the schedule given in the syllabus.
Standards for paper submissions: 1. As a general rule, only printed submissions will be considered. Students should keep electronic copies of all work 2. Deadlines will be strictly adhered to and penalties imposed for each delay in any submission. 3. Writing standards are set out in the Current Course Materials page of the instructor website, including those pertaining to academic integrity.
The following list is a selected compilation of works of fiction and drama, poetry, films, and non-fiction of noted figures in the twentieth century. It does not include a separate listing of dramatic performances, nor architects and their creations, nor the vast world of music that has been so influential in twentieth century civilization. As such, these forms may be considered in various submission projects, subject to prior review and approval by the instructor.
Fiction and Drama
Achebe, Chinua(1959). Things Fall Apart
Barth, John(1960). The Sotweed Factor
Bellow, Saul(1975). Humboldt’s Gift; (1953) The Adventures of Augie March
Böll, Heinrich (1994). A Soldier’s Legacy
Borges, Jorge Luis (1962) Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
Camus, Albert(1942). The Stranger; (1956) The Fall
Dreiser, Theodore (1925) An American Tragedy; (1900). Sister Carrie
Faulkner, William(1936). Absalom, Absalom; (1929) The Sound and the Fury
Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1925) The Great Gatsby
Forster, E.M.(1927) A Passage to India
Gide, André(1902). The Immoralist.
Gordimer, Nadine(1979). Burger’s Daughter
Grass, Gunter(1959). The Tin Drum
Hansberry, Lorraine (1959). A Raisin in the Sun
Heller, Joseph(1961). Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest(1926). The Sun Also Rises; (1940) For Whom the Bell Tolls
Hesse, Hermann (1927). Siddhartha
Huxley, Aldous(1944). Brave New World
Joyce, James (1914). Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. (1922) Ulysses
Kafka, Franz(1915). Metamorphosis; (1925) The Trial
Kerouac, Jack(1957). On the Road; (1958) The Dharma Bums
Koestler, Arthur(1940). Darkness at Noon
Lewis, Sinclair (1922) Babbitt
Mann, Thomas(1924). The Magic Mountain; (1901) Buddenbrooks
Markham, Beryl (1942) West with the Night.
Márquez, Gabriel García (1967). One Hundred Years of Solitude