War and Society

The historical study of war begins with military history: battles and wars, generals and troops, tactics and strategy. Historians recognize that wars have been waged for many reasons, however, including dynastic ambition, religious sectarianism, and political ideology. To understand how war works, a broad range of methods must be brought into play. By looking at political history, we can see how domestic conflicts and constitutional debates have shaped the ways in which wars were fought, and explore the consequences—territorial, political, institutional—of victory and defeat. Social historians might study the everyday experiences of rank-and-file soldiers, or consider how life changed for the families whom soldiers left behind. Alternately, they might examine antiwar and resistance movements, or the ways in which ordinary people coped with the horrors of extreme violence. Cultural historians might consider war as a subject of epic poetry, triumphant sculpture, or martial music. They might also look at popular cultures of war, or at how new forms of communication (books, posters, films) have often permitted new varieties of propaganda. Historians of technology examine not only shifts in weaponry, from the spear to the drone, but also other transformations in material culture (canned food) and communication methods (the telegraph, social media). Yale historians study and teach about the causes, nature, and consequences of warfare in all corners of the world, from antiquity to the present.
Faculty advisers: Sergei Antonov, David Blight, Carolyn Dean, Fabian Drixler, Joanne Freeman, John Gaddis, Beverly Gage, Gilbert Joseph, Paul Kennedy, Joseph Manning, John Merriman, Samuel Moyn, Naomi Rogers, Edward Rugemer, Timothy Snyder, Anders Winroth
Specialist Track requirements: Students specializing in this region must complete at least five of the courses listed below. For additional requirements of the major, see Requirements of the Major.
Course numbers: History course numbers denote region of the world rather than degree of difficulty. 100-level courses are U.S. history; 200-level are European history; 300-level include courses from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America; 400-level courses are global, covering many regions of the world.
Course numbers also convey information about the type of course being offered. Courses beginning with “0” (i.e. HIST 012) are freshman seminars; courses with a three-digit number (i.e. HIST 113) are lectures, open to all students; courses with a “J” suffix (i.e. HIST 136J) are departmental seminars.
Students may petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies to include other HIST courses within a pathway if their written work for the course is directly relevant to the pathway.