Vietnam War Controversies

History 280F.002

Fall 2017
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
W 10-12
Class Number: 

This reading seminar examines contested issues in the history of the political and military conflicts that engulfed Vietnam and its neighbors (Laos and Cambodia) between 1946 and 1978. Early weeks will address the major interpretive approaches that dominate the study of these conflicts including the "orthodox" and "revisionist" schools. Subsequent weeks will address discrete issues in the field that have generated conflicting interpretations: the outbreak of the First Indochina War (1946-1954), the meaning of the Geneva Accords, the character of the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the southern Republic of Vietnam, the origins of the southern insurgency and the National Liberation Front, the history of the American intervention, the role of domestic politics in shaping military strategy, the problem of violence towards civilians and the dynamics of the conflict in Laos and Cambodia. Students are expected to produce short weekly “response papers,” participate actively in class discussions and introduce readings to the rest of the class through structured oral presentations. These brief reports should summarize and assess the central arguments or interpretive thrust of the weekly readings and raise questions for discussion. Because of the heavy reading load for the course no final paper is required. (The course can also be taken as a 285 with a different writing assignment).