Office: 428 N. Glassell, Office 101
Office Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday10:30-11:30 am, & by appointment
Phone: 997-6754 (office)
Class Meetings: Tuesday/Thursday 1-2:15 pm – DeMille Hall, 148
· Feminist scholar and activist Carol J Adams, “The Sexual Politics of Meat”: March 6th.
Virginia Woolf, Mrs.
Dalloway. Harcourt, 2005
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms. Scribner, 2014
Elie Wiesel, Night. Hill & Wang, 2006
Ruth Klüger. Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered. Feminist Press, 2003
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. Dell, 1991.
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried. Mariner Books, 2009.
Dương Thu Hương, Novel without a Name. Penguin, 1996.
Phil Klay, Redeployment. Penguin, 2015. (Optional)
Course Description and Objectives:
War and conflict have been the central inspiration of literature since human beings began writing. The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Mesopotamia, composed over four thousand years ago, depicts King Gilgamesh’s battles with various demi-gods. In the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as The Tanakh and to Christians as the Old Testament, Jehovah is shown leading the Jews to victory in battle (or to defeat if they have been disobedient). The great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, is centrally concerned with war, and The Iliad and Odyssey, with the Bible the most influential literary productions of the West, depict the Trojan War in some detail, along with its origins and consequences.
This course will focus on the war literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Before the twentieth century, authors most often treated war solemnly. In literature, war brought glory. Here is part of the most famous tribute to war in English, from Shakespeare’s Henry V, spoken by King Henry before the Battle of Agincourt:
this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
(And here is Kenneth Branagh’s stirring rendition.)
the great wars of the twentieth century, anticipated by our own Civil War,
introduced increasingly accurate and deadly techniques and weapons, and the
inspiring words long associated with battle: glory, courage, honor – all
accompanied by and confirmed by God’s sanction – began to ring hollow. World War II, with its Holocaust association
and its destruction of whole cities, culminating in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
fundamentally changed our vision of war.
“Now I am become
Death,” Robert Oppenheimer said after the first successful test of the
atomic bomb, quoting from the Bhagavad
destroyer of worlds.”
So this introduction to war literature will be skewed, and we will see war treated less as a path to glory than as a tragic waste, a foolish and useless source of pain and death, or even as a terrible, black comedy. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, God continues to lead some people to war, but for others, God can only be invoked in the name of peace, and for still others, the wars of the last century prove that God is dead.
We will read a small selection of poetry, stories, novels, and essays provoked by the World Wars, the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf Wars. These readings are difficult; at times you will want to turn away. Our challenge will be to maintain an analytical, academic tone at the same time that we respond emotionally to these works of great sadness, pain, and, sometimes, beauty.
Our Course Learning Outcomes:
will practice a good deal of critical reading, including poetry, leading you to
learn to identify and analyze the formal, rhetorical, and stylistic features of
will improve your understanding of the development of war literature through
the 20th and 21st centuries in its historical
in most English courses, you will work on your writing this semester. We will have writing workshops before the
first essay is due, and you will be allowed to revise one of your essays.
Week 1 – January 29-31: Classical,
Biblical, and Medieval Accounts of War
Week 2 – February 5-7: World War I Poetry & Ernest Hemingway.
Week 3 – February 12-14: Hemingway
Week 4 – February 19-21: Virginia Woolf
Week 5 – February 26-28: Woolf. The Holocaust & WWII: Elie Wiesel
Week 6 – March 5-7: Elie Wiesel
Week 7 – March 12-14: Elie Wiesel and Ruth Klüger (Paper 1 due, March 14)
Week 8 – March 26-28: Ruth Klüger.
Week 9 – April 2-4: Midterm. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five.
Week 10 – April 9-11: Travesties of War: Vonnegut/Vietnam,Tim O’Brien
Week 11 – April 16-18: The
Things They Carried; Dương Thu Hương, Novel Without a Name
Week 12 – April 23-25: Novel Without a Name; Phil Klay, Redeployment
Week 13 – April 30-May 2: Redeployment
Week 14 – May 7-9:,
wrap-up and preparation for final (Paper 2 due, May
Week 15 – Final: Thursday, May 16, 8-10:30am.
*We may agree to change the syllabus, but I'll give you plenty of notice, and I'll keep the syllabus updated on the Web.
Assignments & Participation*: 15%
Essay 1: 15% (5-6 pages)
Essay 2: 20% (6-7 pages)
*This is primarily your grade on the Blackboard Discussion Board posts. Here are my criteria for evaluating your posts:
1. The posting should
respond as specifically as possible to the prompt (or you should indicate why
you’re modifying the prompt).
2. The posting should reveal close engagement with the work under discussion.
3. The posting should contribute to the discussion, so later postings should not simply repeat earlier postings, and they should reflect some engagement with earlier postings.
4. Postings should be substantive.
Chapman University Academic Integrity Policy:
Chapman University is a community of scholars that emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith. Students are responsible for doing their own work, and academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including dismissal. (See the Undergraduate Catalog for the full policy.)
Chapman Equity and Diversity Policy:
Chapman University is committed to ensuring equality and valuing diversity. Students and professors are reminded to show respect at all times as outlined in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy. Any violations of this policy should be discussed with the professor, the Dean of Students and/or otherwise reported in accordance with this policy.
Chapman's Students with Disabilities Policy:
In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. The University, through the Disability Services Office, will work with the appropriate faculty member who is asked to provide the accommodations for a student in determining what accommodations are suitable based on the documentation and the individual student needs. The granting of any accommodation will not be retroactive and cannot jeopardize the academic standards or integrity of the course. If you have ANY concerns about completing course requirements, let me know.
Achilles & Patroclus. The archetype of transcendent friendships among soldiers.
World War One
· The Poetry Foundation’s fine collection of WWI poetry, with a brief introduction.
· Images of WWI, from the Britannica Website.
· Interesting New Yorker article on Rupert Brooke.
Farewell to Arms
· Passage from Huck Finn demonstrating Hemingway’s stylistic source.
· “Westron wynde” referred to on page 171.
· A video reference to the novel in The Silver Linings Playbook, supplied by Joey.
· David Bradshaw’s (no relation to William) fine analysis of the way the novel responds to WWI.
· The Rogers Center for Holocaust Education at Chapman.
· Elie Wiesel bio from “The Academy of Achievement.”
· The Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance.
· Jewish Women’s Archive biography of Ruth Klüger.
· 2001 review of Still Alive in the NY Times – critical of Klüger’s feminism.
World War II
· Trailer to Apocalypse Now.
· The story of Au Co and Lac Long Quan, a founding myth of Vietnam referred to on p. 247.
Respite from our readings and discussions (supplied by former and current students):
· Michelle Obama on the Late Show.
· Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke.
For Thursday, January 31: Read Thomas Hardy’s “ ,” “ ,” ( ), “ ,” “ ”; Rupert Brooke, “ ”; A. E. Housman, “ ”; Hugh MacDiarmid, “ ”; ”; e.e. cummings, “ ,” ( ) “i sing of olaf glad and big,” (read); and Siegfried Sassoon’s “ ,” “ ,” “ ,” “ ,” ,” “ ,” “ ”). Be prepared to read aloud and discuss one of the poems. Begin reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, which we’ll begin discussing Thursday, February 7.) & (