This is a writing-intensive course dealing with the
way war has been represented in Western literary works in a variety of genres,
from the first significant work of Western literature, the Iliad, to a
memoir of the first Iraq war. Lectures
on each of the works will precede class-wide and group discussion of
instructor- and student-generated questions.
In addition to analysis of specific literary and rhetorical features of
these works (e.g., heroic similes in Homer, alienation effects in Brecht,
fragmentary narrative in Going After Cacciato), we will be considering
questions of justice, trauma, and gender in many of these works and viewing
film versions of some of them.
This is a writing-intensive course, and required
assignments will include four formal papers:
a summary of one book of the Iliadthat is not required reading
for all class members; a comparison of two of the early works (Iliad, Song
of Roland, Henry V); an
explication of one of the war poems that you will be reading, and a thematic
comparison on the issue of justice, trauma, or gender representation in three
or more writers. You will be writing extensively and intensively
throughout the course, including some digital posts to the whole class, as a
means of developing, demonstrating, and sharing your understanding of these
works as well as some of the issues that they illustrate. Extra-credit writing
assignments on films will be available as well, but not required. There will also be a
final exam. Attendance and participation
and informal writing will count for 15% of the final grade, the four formal
papers for 65%, and the final exam for 20%.
Readings will be include the following: Homer, The Iliad; The Song of Roland;
Shakespeare, Henry V; Brecht, Mother Courage and her Children;selected
Civil War, World War, Vietnam and Iraqi War poetry; Tim O’Brien, Going After
Cacciato,Bobby Ann Mason, In Country; Emily Mann, Still Life;Anthony
Swofford, Jarhead.Some additional excerpts from critics, historians,
and psychologists will be part of required course reading.