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Cullman Center Institute for Teachers: Year Zero: 1945


IAN BURUMA, Instructor

This seminar, which will interest both English and history teachers, examines how the world emerged from the wreckage of World War II. The immediate postwar period had its horrors, including civil war, revenge, and starvation, but there was hope as well of building a better world in which another global conflict would be unthinkable. People who had sacrificed a great deal – among them soldiers, women, black people, and Asian-Americans – demanded more equality and better opportunities. 1945 also saw the birth of the United Nations, the welfare state, and the first moves towards a European union. How much of this world created in 1945 is still left today? We will read from a variety of texts, including memoir (Harold MacMillan, John Foster Dulles), fiction (Heinrich Böll), reportage (Edmund Wilson, Stephen Spender), and history books (Mazower, Dallas, Bessel). 

Ian Buruma is a writer, journalist, and professor at Bard College. He was educated in Holland and Japan, where he studied history, Chinese literature, and Japanese cinema. His essays, covering a broad range of political and cultural subjects, have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Il Corriere della Sera, and NRC Handelsblad. His current project, 1945: Life in Ruins, is a book about the immediate aftermath of World War II in Europe and Asia.