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To End All Wars: The Crisis of the Interwar Period, 1919-1941  

Dr Dayna Barnes This course will cover the global events and major political developments in the years between the First and Second World Wars. It will address the changes and challenges to global order with the rise of new “revisionist” powers and a first attempt at supranational “world” governance (the League of Nations). “To End All Wars” will cover major themes in modern history including nationalism, imperialism, alliance-making, international law, and realism. These are forces which have shaped the world as we know it. 1) Wilsonianism and its Discontents This week we will discuss new American internationalism, based on the ideas of President Woodrow Wilson. Wilsonianism inspired nationalist hopes in Japan, China, and Korea, hopes which were dashed. Wilson’s ideas are also behind the creation of the League of Nations, forerunner to the modern United Nations Organization. 2) Opposition to Empire Brutal fighting in Europe challenged the international system of imperialism in several ways. It undermined perception the West as uniquely “civilized,” called into question the value of western technology, was a blow to the notion that European states were unbeatable, and increased the demands empires made on their colonies for supplies and manpower. The end of the Great War marked a rise in calls for decolonization. 3) The End of the Ottomans The Ottoman Empire, until 1919 the “sick man of Europe,” was a casualty of the Great War. This week we will examine the collapse of a cosmopolitan Ottoman Empire, and the creation of a nationalist, secular modern Turkish state in its place. 4) Rising Japan Japan was already a major power by the end of the Great War. The 1920s were a period of “internationalism” and expanding democracy there. Several factors, including the 1929 global great depression, led to right wing extremism and domestic terrorism in 1930s Japan. This week we will see the rise of militarist Japan. 5) Nazi Germany Between 1919 and 1939, Germany went from being a defeated and constrained state to becoming the dominant force in Europe. This week we will look at the origins of the Nazi party, ethnic nationalism, and expansionism in interwar Germany. 6) The Road to War The Great War was meant to be “the war to end all wars.” Yet, twenty years later the world was in conflict again. This week we will look at the outbreak of war in Europe and Asia, and how these two regional conflicts were drawn together into a new World War. Dr Dayna Barnes is a specialist in 20th century international history, American foreign policy, and East Asia. She completed her PhD in International History at the London School of Economics. Dr Barnes is currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University.


  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University
    835 Market Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
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