I started the 1915 version of World War I in Real Time today (syllabus here), and apart from getting to talk even longer during the “how did we get here” first part of the lecture, it was like riding a bicycle—if that bicycle pedaled itself, dispensed beer, played Pearl Jam, and charged a cellphone. I can’t wait to get back into this class.
Not much to note about this first lecture, apart from having a full extra year’s worth of table setting to draw the class in on the first day: Japan, Turkey, and Italy joining the war; Japan’s note to China; Gallipoli and the Arab Revolt; the British blockade; the Lusitania, the Arabic, unrestricted German submarine warfare, and the stirrings of American sentiment for war. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something in the retelling, but it’ll be interesting to see if the “real time” hook works as well this time, given that I’m doing even more violence to the real time conceit than I did in 2014.
It’s allowed some changes that I’m happy with, though: some less than satisfying lectures jettisoned, new ones brought in on new topics (especially on the empires in the war and fighting outside Europe), a more clearly defined set of and role for writing assignments, etc. More in this space to come, though until we get into new lectures, it’ll mostly be inside-baseball stuff on the teaching side.
I am, at best, an inconsistent blogger. That’s not shocking, I’m sure.
However, as rarely as I manage to post something, I do find that I generally enjoy the exercise, so this semester I’m going to
implement try to do something new: I’m going to write about my undergraduate lectures—sometimes before class, sometimes after—but in either case see if I can’t bring some unity of purpose to each lecture and relate the content to broader issues of political science that I might not necessarily touch on in “War and Peace in East Asia” (which, I should clarify, is the name of the course).
War and peace, obviously, aren’t new topics for me, but the regional focus certainly is. Preparing over the summer has pushed me towards a better understanding of a number of wars and near-wars about which my knowledge was, heretofore, criminally limited (e.g., yesterday I refreshed myself on the Russo-Japanese War), and I’m very much looking forward to (a) the intellectual exercise of applying familiar theory to new cases, which usually (fingers crossed) leads to new research questions, and (b) not subjecting those around me to endless recitations of the new things I’ve learned about World War I. (Sorry about that, everyone.)
So, with all that’s implied by such a public commitment, classes begin at UT on August 28. Keep an eye on this space.