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Reportage and Conflict in the Long Twentieth Century - HIS00101C

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Hugo Service
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

Over the long twentieth century both warfare and reportage have expanded into global scales. This simultaneity was not altogether coincidental: advances in transportation and communication technologies allowed military campaigns previously limited to specific regions to cover the entire world in their expanse. Technological transformations also created the possibility of spreading information relatively quickly, and in new media, to an ever-expanding mass public. In this module, we will examine the relationship between military conflict and reportage in the long twentieth century, using examples starting from the Spanish-American War of 1898 through to recent and present-day conflicts of the 2000s with their cyber components. Our questions will include: What did the greater reach of war correspondents do to the way wars were being fought and perceived by those waging them? How did states and other agents of warfare seek to use or manipulate news media in order to further their interests? How did editorial choices define what conflicts societies should care about? What importance was put on freedom of speech and freedom of information? How did successive transformations in media technologies alter the situation? And what does all that mean to the way we understand military conflicts in the long twentieth century? We will also be thinking critically about how historians should treat news media as evidence. We will guide student groups in independent research projects, drawing on recent scholarship and utilising as primary evidence news media of all varieties - textual, visual, or audiovisual - accessed through databases, digital archives and other online resource sites.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To work closely with a type or range of primary sources that speak to a particular period of history
  • To equip students with group work skills at an early stage in their degree
  • To guide students in how historians deploy and select a mix of methods of analysis in order to construct an argument
  • To enable students to produce an independent piece of research based on primary source materials

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Be able to present a piece of work effectively as a group by making clear and coherent contributions in coordination with others
  • Have demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively in order to devise and complete a project
  • Have shown the ability to evaluate and apply quantitative and qualitative methods as appropriate for their inquiries
  • Have gained skills and experience in identifying and analysing primary sources in advance of project and dissertation work at later stages
  • Have combined the analysis of primary sources with critical discussion of a scholarly debate in order to develop a coherent historical argument

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1, 2-hour workshops in weeks 2-4, 7-8 and 11, and group tutorials in weeks 6 and 10. They will also participate in York Strengths online. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW). Students prepare for and participate in six workshops and two group tutorials, and complete two reflective online exercises in all.

Workshop topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Conflicts, news and propaganda in the long twentieth century
  2. Reportage on conflicts
  3. News media as sources and evidence
  4. Sources, evidence, contexts
  5. Reportage and conflicts: Arguments


Task Length % of module mark
3,000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment work, students submit a group project proposal in week 5 and participate in a group presentation in week 11.

For summative assessment, students submit a 3000-word essay as a group project in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Individual Project and Reflection
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment tasks, students will receive feedback in their tutorial and in their workshop. This feedback may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole module group.

All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For summative assessment tasks, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For semester-time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • Mark Connelly and David Welch (eds.), War and Media: Reportage and Propaganda, 1900-2003 (London: I.B. Tauris, 2003).
  • Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (London: Bodley Head, 2008 - second edition).
  • Dina Fainberg, Cold War Correspondents: Soviet and American Reporters on the Ideological Frontlines (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2021).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.