Vietnam War Controversies

History 280F

Fall 2014
Day & Time: 
W 4-6P

This course explores interpretive conflicts over the Vietnam War.   We will examine the major "schools" that have dominated the scholarship including the orthodox school, the revisionist school and the new Vietnam-centric school.  We will look at contrasting explanations for the origins, escalation and outcome of the conflict.  Other issues addressed in the course include the significance of the Geneva Accords (were they formally binding or not?), the character of the southern Vietnamese state (was it a puppet or not?), the character of the northern Vietnamese state (was it animated by communism or nationalism?), the origins of the southern insurgency (was it a response to southern grievances or a product of northern manipulation?), the nature of different phases of the military conflict and the impact of the war on non-combatants.  We will also look at the complex dynamics and impact of the American intervention as well as the role in the conflict of China and the Soviet Union.  Some attention will be paid to the large body of scholarship on atrocities and war crimes and to the legacy of the War in the post-war era.   Assignments include weekly readings, a research paper and several in-class presentations.  The course may also be taken as a 285 seminar with the permission of the instructor.