In European History Since 1648 at UNLV last Thursday, we had a discussion of the First World War. Our previous class discussion about The Good Soldier Svejk had provided the bridge to this conversation, and I asked students to think about the causes of the war with references to a number of the big themes we have been discussing both throughout the course, and particularly during the past weeks during which we covered the 19th century.
We surveyed some of the propaganda that European governments used to persuade their citizens of the necessity of war, thought about the new technologies that appeared during the war, and discussed the manner in which communication passed between the battlefield and the home front.
We concluded with an examination of the consequences of the war, not just for the re-drawn map of Europe, but for European societies, European empires, and Europe’s place within the world. Students were able—on the basis of the themes and discussions from recent weeks—to identify the seeds of future conflicts in the settlements following the First World War.