The War in Society and Culture (WISC) Program aims to further our historical understanding of armed conflict by richly contextualizing warfare in the cultures, societies, economies, and environments in which it takes place.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a long history of excellence in Military History. Renowned historian Edward “Mac” Coffman, for example, was professor at the university from 1961 until his retirement in 1992. Author of such classics as The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime, 1784-1898 and The Regulars: The American Army 1898-1941, Coffman is broadly considered one of the founders of modern military history in the United States. Prominent military historians John Dower and Stephen Ambrose have also served on the faculty at the UW. Drawing as well on our department’s traditional strengths in the history of gender and in cultural and social history, we examine how war has served as an arena for the expression of gender norms, cultural concepts of virtue and honor, and military ethics. Our affiliated faculty, numbering eleven in all, address all historical eras and regions of the world. Transnational and comparative in approach, the military history graduate curriculum introduces students to pre-modern military traditions and traces their evolution to the present day.
Graduate students are required to take a core seminar in military history, which will be taught next in the spring of 2021. In addition, they must take two graduate seminars related to some topic in military history and taught by one of the faculty affiliated with the program. WISC students follow the prelim requirements in their primary field of study, except that one of their major fields must be in Military History. Beginning in Fall 2017, graduate students with research interests in war, society, and culture are meeting every other week in a reading-group or workshop format.
For upcoming events, see News & Events in the right-hand menu. For details or to add yourself to the group’s email list, contact Michael Kaelin (president) or Chad S.A. Gibbs (vice-president). For undergraduate courses in military history, see the Department of History’s Courses page. For graduate courses, see the Department of History’s Graduate Courses pages.