Washington DC Course Info

"Seedtime of the Republic: The New Nation Takes Shape, 1754-1789"
James M. Banner Jr. '57                            

 Registration              $395.00

Tuesdays, October 2 - November 6,  6:30 - 8 p.m.
Location:  1025 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 

Very close to the Farragut North Metro Station

Course Description: 

This course covers the founding of the American republic from its inception in an era of mounting tensions with Great Britain through the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. It takes up its subject starting in the 1750s — during what Americans know as the French and Indian War but what in its international context goes by the name of the Seven Years War. Its text will be Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789, a splendid narrative account of the Revolutionary Era. Yet because of the course’s limits and that book’s length, we will omit its chapters dealing with the conduct of the Revolutionary War. You are encouraged to read those chapters on your own.

The course will concentrate, as Middlekauff’s book does, on the sources of the American colonists’ mounting grievances with the mother country and those grievances’ resolution in independence, and the establishment of distinctive American forms of government. But the facts contained in Middlekauff’s narrative — one characterized by trenchant analysis and astute judgments as well as the lively telling of events — cannot do justice to changes in interpretation of the subject advanced since the publication of the book’s first edition in 1982. Controversy about these events — for example, who brought on and advanced the Revolution, and how to explain the Constitution of 1787 — continues to divide historians and sustain historical debate. Understanding those arguments is critically important to understanding both the nation’s history and its current political and social battles. So Middlekauff’s pages will be supplemented by coverage of what historians are now focusing on and where debates about the era now stand.


Required Material:

Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (in the revised and expanded edition of 2005)



Week 1- October 2: Chapters 1-3

Week 2- October 9: Chapters 4-6

Week 3- October 16: Chapters 7-11

Week 4- October 23: Chapters 14, 17, 21

Week 5- October 30: Chapters 20, 22

Week 6- November 6: Chapters 23-Epilogue




James M. Banner Jr. '57 

James M. Banner Jr. holds a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from Columbia, where he studied with Richard Hofstadter. He was a member of the history department of Princeton University from 1966 to 1980, which he left to found the American Association for the Advancement of the Humanities. A former Guggenheim Fellow, fellow of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard, member of the board of directors of the American Council of Learned Societies, and Fulbright Visiting Professor of American History at Charles University, Prague, he is the author of many books and articles in American history, education, and public affairs. They include To the Hartford Convention: The Federalists and the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts, 1789-1815; with James M. McPherson et al., Blacks in America: Bibliographical Essays; with Harold C. Cannon, The Elements of Teaching and The Elements of Learning; and, most recently, Being a Historian: An Introduction to the Professional World of History. He is currently writing a book, to be published by Yale University Press, about revisionist history tentatively entitled “Battles Over the Past: Revisionist History — What It Is, Why We Have It” and hoping for a production of a play, “Good and Faithful Servants,” drawn from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Banner was a co-founder of the History News Service and the moving spirit behind the National History Center. He has previously taught two Yale Alumni College courses — “The Founding of the American Republic, 1787-1815: Major Issues, Major Controversies” (Fall 2016), and “Classics of Historical Thought and Literature” (Fall 2017).


History's Toughest Choices: What Would You Do?
Cases From Clausewitz"
Bruce Gudmundsson ’81                                  

Registration            $395.00                          

Wednesdays, October 3 - November 7,  7 - 8:30 p.m. 
Location:  1025 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 
Very close to the Farragut North Metro Station

Course Description

These days, Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz (1780-1831) is best remembered as the author of On War, a timeless treatise on the nature of war and politics that is famous for being more quoted than read, and more read than understood. This course will use an approach similar to that used by Clausewitz himself, both as an historian and as a teacher, to explore the powerful ideas at the heart of this great work. Variously known as “the case method,” “the historical immersion method,” and the “decision-forcing method,” this approach asks students to take on the role of an actual person who, at some time in the past, found himself faced with a particularly challenging problem. In other words, each class meeting of the course will consist of an exercise in which each student is asked to immerse himself in a historical situation and make decisions as if he were actually there. All required readings will be provided.



Week 1- October 3: “Into the Woods”

Week 2- October 10:  “Lost in Yonkers”

Week 3- October 17: “All in the Family”

Week 4- October 24:  “The Old School Tie”

Week 5- October 31: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Week 6- November 7: “Say It Ain’t So, Joe.”


Please read the full syllabus here. 



Bruce Ivar Gudmundsson '81

Bruce Ivar Gudmundsson is an historian and case teacher who lives and works in Quantico, Virginia. Between 2007 and 2017, he held the Case Method Chair at the Marine Corps University, where he taught decision-forcing cases on subjects that ranged from logistics in the Falklands War to military operations in the borderlands that connect Mexico and the United States. Gudmundsson, who holds a B.A. from Yale College and a D.Phil. from Oxford University, has also taught at the U.S. Army War College, Dickinson College, and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. His books include Stormtroop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918; On Artillery; On Armor; and (with John English), On Infantry.



"Russia Resurgent: How Russia Went From Defeat in the Cold War to Global Power"
Mary Habeck ’89 MA, '96 PhD  Professor at Johns Hopkins (SAIS) and Georgetown University                                                       

Registration            $450.00

Thursdays, October 4 - November 8,  10 a.m. - 12 p.m. 
Location:  1025 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 
Very close to the Farragut North Metro Station

Course Description

The return of Russia to great power status was not predicted by anyone who studied that country during the 1990s.  After collapsing utterly in 1989-1991, a decade of chaos, economic weakness, and powerlessness on the international stage followed. Yet the last few years have seen a startling resurgence of a confident and militarily competent country, one that depends on nationalism and the security state to project power abroad while maintaining popular support in both Eastern Europe and the Russian motherland. This class will seek to understand the nature of this resurgence through an in-depth examination of the collapsing Soviet Union, the return of ultra-nationalism, the persistence of the KGB and its successors, the ideology of Eurasianism, and the specific role played by Vladimir Putin.



Course Materials:

A list of required reading will be provided to registered students




Week 1- October 4: The collapse of the Soviet Union and the persistence of memory.

Week 2- October 11:  The Soviet security state and its successor institutions: controlling the past and the present.

Week 3- October 18: Putin triumphant: the education and rise of a strong man.

Week 4- October 25:  Ideologies of nationalism and national regeneration: Eurasianism, Putinism, and the appeal to Europe and the U.S.

Week 5- November 1: The national security policies and strategies of Russia: reviving Soviet power bases through indirect warfare.

Week 6- November 8: Future plans and strategies of the new Russia.




Mary Habeck '89 MA, '96 PhD

Mary Habeck is a strategic planner and an expert on military matters, Islam, and extremism. She teaches on al-Qa’ida and ISIS at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and at Georgetown, while running her consulting firm, Applied Grand Strategies (www.appliedgs.com). Habeck is also a Senior Fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute. From 2005-2013, she was an Associate Professor in Strategic Studies at SAIS, teaching courses on extremism, military history, and strategic thought. Before moving to SAIS, Habeck taught American and European military history in Yale’s history department, 1994-2005. She received her Ph.D. in history from Yale in 1996, an M.A. in international relations from Yale in 1989, and a B.A. in international studies, Russian, and Spanish from Ohio State in 1987.

Habeck was appointed by President George W. Bush '68 to the Council on the Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities (2006-2013), and in 2008-2009 she was the Special Advisor for Strategic Planning on the National Security Council staff.

In addition to books and articles on doctrine, World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and al-Qa’ida, her publications include Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror (Yale, 2005) and three forthcoming sequels, Attacking America: Al-Qa’ida’s Grand Strategy (2018), Managing Savagery: Al-Qa’ida’s Military and Political Strategies (2019), and Fighting the Enemy: The U.S. and its War against al-Qa’ida (2020).