Mackinder Forum Virtual Seminar #29: Professor James J. Sheehan, “A Closing World: Geopolitics and the Origins of the First World War”

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On April 11, 2021, 1:30-3:00 p.m. (Eastern US Time), Professor James Sheehan delivered a talk on “A Closing World: Geopolitics and the Origins of the First World War.”

ABSTRACT: In the last decades of the nineteenth century the world was transformed by a combination of technological, economic, and political developments. The purpose of my talk is to examine the impact of this transformation on the international system, first in the deeply interconnected global environment, then in southeastern Europe where the Great War began in the summer of 1914. Geopolitics, I will argue, helps us to understand the calculations and assumptions that made a European war possible and, to some statesmen, unavoidable.

READINGS:

J. Osterhammel and N. Petersson, Globalization: A Short History, pp. 76-98.
P.W. Schroeder, “International Politics, Peace, and War, 1815-1914,” in The Short Oxford History of Europe: The Nineteenth Century, ed. T. C. W. Blanning (Oxford, 2000), pp. 158-209.

BIOGRAPHY: James J. Sheehan is Dickason Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History emeritus at Stanford University. He has written five books and edited several others, mostly on German history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His most recent work is Where have all the soldiers gone? The Transformation of Modern Europe, published by Houghton Mifflin in January 2008. The winner of four awards for outstanding teaching, he has been a visiting fellow at Oxford University and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, won the Humboldt Research Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, is a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, has been awarded the Verdienstkreuz by the Federal Republic of Germany, and is a member of the Orden pour le Mérite. In 2005 he served as president of the American Historical Association. He is now completing a book (tentatively) entitled Making the Modern Political Order: States, Nations, and the Problem of the Nation State.