Skip to main content


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

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Susan-Mary Grant
  • Lecturer: Dr Robert Dale, Dr Vicky Long, Dr Jen Kain
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 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

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

LECTURES 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.

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 record materials asynchronously.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A60Unseen exam: take-home 24-hour paper. 2000 words.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper1M401500 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Poster1MOn links between three case studies. 500 words plus visual material.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining the student’s progress.
2. Summative assessment tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research and reading.

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. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists