Global Opportunities

HIS2305 : War, Wounds, and Disabilities in the Modern Russian, American and British Worlds

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module seeks to introduce second-year (level 5) under-graduate students to the important and rapidly developing field of war and its many physical and psychological impacts on individuals and their societies, The focus is on Russia and the Soviet Union, Europe more broadly, the United States, the UK, and New Zealand. It explores the social and medical reactions to the disabling effects of war on the bodies and minds of war combatants and their families.

Given the expertise of the contributors, this module takes a comparative and thematic approach to war-related disability. Although special reference is paid to how war wounding and disability was constructed and experienced in the North American, Russian/Soviet, and British cases, both its geographical frame of reference and its social and medical history approach is much broader and includes the coverage of thematic topics such as the examination of immigrant exclusion from Australia and New Zealand, for example, the brief but influential fascination with neurasthenia (the mental stress brought on by both military engagement and modernity) or the related history of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or the implications of the transition from soldier to civilian in modern conflict.

Over the course of a programme of lectures and seminars students will explore the multiple ways in which warfare maimed, injured, disfigured and impaired soldiers, and how veterans and the societies to which they returned classified, treated, compensated and cared for the war-disabled. Specific forms of disability, and how they were constructed and handled by different societies will be considered. As well as exploring disabilities themselves, the module will explore institutional and domestic histories of care, issues of gender and masculinity, and the social experience of disability more broadly.

On successful competition of the module students will be well-acquainted with the principal methods, approaches and sources that inform disability in a martial context, and be able to apply them to the specific focus of the module and to the present-day issues raised by conflict.

The module connects to both the work of the Conflict and Revolution and Lifecycles, Bodies and Diseases Research Strands. It is very much informed by the research of the module leaders, and directly research led.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following are some of the central topics typically included in lectures and non-synchronous (some on-line) materials:

•       Nineteenth-Century War Wounded
•       Medical Photographs and their Uses
•       Psychological Trauma in Russia and the Soviet Union
•       War Blindness, Deafness, and Plastic Surgery
•       Reconstructing Faces and Voices in the American Civil War and World War 1
•       Henry Ford and the Industrial Body
•       Prosthetic Limbs and Support Structures in the Soviet Union
•       Work, Rehabilitation, and Pensions
•       Hierarchies of Wounds and Disability
•       Disease and Fears of Contagion
•       Policing the State in Russian and the Soviet Union
•       The Able-Bodied and Empire
•       The War Wounded in Film
•       The Rise of a Social Disability Model in the UK

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Weekly lecture: assumption is PiP or as necessary.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Part of student contact hours (e.g. 1 hour of case study/lecture/documentary analyses Asynchronous.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:00For two assessments plus poster preparation and presentation.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading651:0065:00Seminar preparation (reading).
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Weekly seminar: assumption is PiP or as necessary.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study361:0036:00General consolidation activities.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1. SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills, research skills and adaptability.

2. LECTURES impart core knowledge and an outline of knowledge that students are expected to acquire; raise questions for students to consider in private study, and stimulate development of listening and note-taking skills. These sessions will also at certain points during the module be used for group work, encouraging teamwork and self-directed work. They also enable students to gain a wider sense of historical argument and debate and how such debates operate, which also allows them to develop comparisons between different historiographical debates.

3. LECTURE MATERIALS (under Structured Guided Learning): Documentary Analyses to aid students in working through and using primary material. They introduce and take students through either an individual primary document or a particular source collection to enhance research skills. The material analyzed will come into seminar dicussion(s), when students are expected to assess the extent to which the historiography (book or article(s)) is supported or contradicted by the primary documents looked at.

SURGERY TIME/OFFICE HOURS: Staff will make themselves available in their offices for three hours over the course of the module to see students individually on issues concerning them, although we expect this will focus on preparation for assessments.

NOTE: In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to present recorded materials asynchronously.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A60Unseen exam: take-home 24-hour paper. 2000 words.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper2M401500 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Poster2MOn links between three case studies. 500 words plus visual material.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. Work submitted during the delivery of the module (see FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT below, and first piece of SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT) forms a means of determining the student’s progress.
2. SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research and reading.
3. FORMATIVE ASSESSMEMENT: is designed to initiate ideas for comparative analysis in preparation for the first piece of summative assessment (the research paper). It takes the form of a poster, and feedback is provided.

The take-home 24-hour exam at the end of the module tests knowledge acquired and ability to write this up in a relatively short space of time.

The research paper should focus on one case study and present independent research findings relating to it.

Formative exercises may also be set for this module. They will be un-assessed, but will be discussed in the seminars and will feed into the assessed work. The poster for 2021/22 will require the links between three case studies to be identified and described, together with appropriate visual evidence.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists