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HIS 157 — An Introduction to Military History: From the Ancient World to the Early Modern Period

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Jan 14—Mar 18
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Feb 3
Unit: 1
Tuition: $405
Instructor(s): Gil-li Vardi
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on January 21 and February 18
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 14—Mar 18
8 weeks
Drop By
Feb 3
1 Unit
Gil-li Vardi
Please Note: No class on January 21 and February 18
"War,” said Heraclitus, “is the father of all things.” He was right; throughout history, war has shaped and continues to shape almost all aspects of human life. But what shapes war? This course will cover the evolution of war and warfare from antiquity (ancient Greece and the Roman Republic) to the early modern era (the 15th and 16th centuries) in China, Japan, and Europe. Each class session will focus on a different factor shaping war and its evolution. Our discussion of ancient Greek and Roman wars will focus on war’s societal impact and its effects on perceptions of security, while ancient Chinese military writings will provide the opportunity to compare Western and non-Western “ways of war.” The Crusades will serve as an example of change induced by a new and hostile environment. We will conclude with a discussion of the role of technology in military affairs, comparing the rejection of the early gun in Japan to its enthusiastic adoption in Europe. By the end of the course, students will better understand the theory and practice of war in various premodern, preindustrialized societies in Europe and Asia.

This is the first of two courses on military history. The second course, “An Introduction to Military History: From the French Revolution to the 21st Century” (Spring 2019) will cover the evolution of war from the premodern era to present-day and potential future wars. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.

Gil-li Vardi, Lecturer in History and International Relations, Stanford

Gil-li Vardi is a military historian studying the dynamics of doctrinal and operational change in military organizations. She is a nonresident fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. She received a PhD in international history from the London School of Economics.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Christon I Archer et al, World History of Warfare (ISBN 978-0-8032-1941-0)