Peace Studies/English 360: War, Memory, & Literature

Dr. Richard Ruppel


Useful Links
Updated December 1, 2016


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 – Beckman Hall, 202

·         9/11 Lecture by Professor Charles Webel, Delp Wilkinson Chair of Peace Studies.  Monday, September 12. 6-8:30pm, AF 209 A. 

·         Premier Screening of After Auschwitz, Tuesday, September 13, 7-9 pm, Memorial Hall. 

·         International Day of Peace Events:  Wednesday, September 21, 4-7 pm, in front of Argyros Forum. Includes barbecue dinner(!)

·         Ambassador Bernd Fischer lecture on international diplomacy:  “Apocalypse Now?” Tuesday, October 4, 4-6 pm.  AF 209. 

·         Word Theatre Performance with Tim O’Brien.  Monday, October 17, 7:30 pm in the Wallace All Faiths Chapel.

·         Tuesday, October 25.  7pm.  Presentation of the play, Etty, the short life of Etty Hillesum, based on her diaries.  In the Fish Interfaith Center. 

·         Thursday, November 10, 7pm.  An Interfaith Service of Remembrance for Kristallnacht.  In the Fish Interfaith Center.  

·         Tuesday, November 15, 5-6:30pm, Kennedy Hall (Law School) Lobby.  Book talk, Michael Bazyler, Holocaust, Genocide, and the Law (Oxford, 2016). 

·         Thursday, November 17, 4-6pm, AF 209 B.  “Europe Today: A Reliable Partner of America and the World?”  Ambassador Bernd Fischer. 

·         Thursday, December 1, 5-7pm in Beckman 404: “Nonviolence 101:  What, Why & How, an Interactive Training with Stephanie Knox Cubbon.”  (Click on the link to read about the event and to RSVP.) 

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: 


From 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.)


But 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, “the 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:


1.    You 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 different genres.

2.    You will improve your understanding of the development of war literature through the 20th and 21st centuries in its historical context. 

3.    As 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.

Weekly Syllabus*

Week 1 – August 30-September 1: Classical, Biblical, and Medieval Accounts of War
Week 2 – September 6-8:  World War I Poetry & Ernest Hemingway. 

Week 3 – September 13-15: Hemingway
Week 4 – September 20-22:  Virginia Woolf
Week 5 – September 27-29: Woolf.  The Holocaust & WWII:  Elie Wiesel
Week 6 – October 4-6: Elie Wiesel

Week 7 – October 11-13: Elie Wiesel and Ruth Klüger (Paper 1 due, October 13)
Week 8
– October 18-20: Ruth Klüger.
Week 9
– October 25-27: Midterm. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. 
Week 10 – November 1-3: Travesties of War:  Vonnegut/Vietnam,Tim O’Brien

Week 11 – November 8-10:  NO CLASS TUESDAY.  VOTE!!! O’Brien Thursday. 
Week 12 – November 15-17: The Things They Carried, begin
Dương Thu Hương


Week 13 – November 29-December 1:
Dương Thu Hương, Novel Without a Name.

Week 14 – December 6-8: Novel Without a Name, wrap-up and preparation for final (Paper 2 due, December 8)
Week 15 – Tuesday, December 13:  Final—10:45-1:15 pm

*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. 

Course and Paper Requirements

Final drafts of your papers should be submitted both as hard copies in class and via email.  All students will write one of the required essays.  But some of you might decide to submit some other project in lieu of one of the essays.  We’ll discuss possibilities in class. 

If you anticipate having trouble getting an assignment in on time, let me know in advance. Unexcused late papers or projects will be marked down one letter grade per week.

You will be allowed 4 free absences through the semester. But you can't pass this class if you miss 6 or more classes.

Keep on top of the reading and other work through the semester. If you haven't read the assignment, you will find our class discussion both incomprehensible and dull.

Minutes: Each of you will keep minutes for one week, sharing the duties with a partner.  Those minutes will be due the following Monday, and I will post them in Blackboard. 

Assignments & Participation*: 15%
Minutes:  10%
Essay 1: 15% (5-6 pages)
Essay 2: 20% (6-7 pages)
Midterm:  15%
Final: 20%

*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.   

Useful Links:

Achilles & Patroclus. The archetype of transcendent friendships among soldiers.

Respite from our readings and discussions (send links): 

·         Michelle Obama on the Late Show. 

·         First Lady Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke.


·         Dactylic meter: Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854).

·         Anapestic meter: Byron’s “The Destruction of Sennacherib” (1815).

World War One

·         The Poetry Foundation’s fine collection of WWI poetry, with a brief introduction. 

·         War Poetry Website. 

·         Images of WWI, from the Britannica Website. 

·         Interesting New Yorker article on Rupert Brooke. 

·         Pro-war poetry.  Julian Grenfell, “Into Battle.” Jessie Pope: “The World War I Poet Kids are Taught to Dislike” (BBC), “War Girls,” “No!” “Who’s for the Game?”

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. 

Mrs. Dalloway

·         David Bradshaw’s (no relation to William) fine analysis of the way the novel responds to WWI. 

The Holocaust

·         The Rogers Center for Holocaust Education at Chapman. 

·         Elie Wiesel bio from “The Academy of Achievement.”

·         Brief, edited interview with Elie Wiesel in 2014.  Video obituary, NYTimes. Interview with Charlie Rose. 

·         United States Holocaust Museum.

·         Holocaust Timeline.

·         Simon Wiesenthal Center. 

·         The Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. 

·         Poetry.  First They Came for the Jews”; “Holocaust Poem”; “The Little Boy with Hands Up”; “The Burning of the Books,” “Daddy.”

·         Jewish Women’s Archive biography of Ruth Klüger. 

·         2001 review of Still Alive in the NY Times – critical of Klüger’s feminism. 

·         Ruth Klüger discusses the reception of Still Alive. She speaks at UCSB and reads from her book.  She speaks at Oregon State University on “The Shoah in Literature.”   

World War II

·         Poems:  High Flight,” John Magee; i sing of olaf, glad and big,” e.e. cummings; “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” Randall Jarrell.


·         Tim O’Brien, on why he writes about Vietnam.  Interviewed about The Things They Carried. 

·         Poems:  Yusef Komunyakaa, “Tu Do Street.” Leroy Quintana, “Natural History.” Robert Borden, “Meat Dreams: A Poem of the Vietnam War.” 

·         Trailer to Apocalypse Now. 

·         Biography of Thu Hương Dương; thorough NYTimes article from 2005; the one YouTube I’ve found in English.  

·         The story of Au Co and Lac Long Quan, a founding myth of Vietnam referred to on p. 247. 




For Thursday, September 1:  Read Thomas Hardy’s “Channel Firing,” “Drummer Hodge,” (reading), “A Wife in London,” “The Man He Killed” (reading); Rupert Brooke, “The Soldier”; A. E. Housman, “Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries”; Hugh MacDiarmid, “Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries”; Carl Sandburg, “Grass”; e.e. cummings, “my sweet old etcetera,” (read) i sing of olaf glad and big,” (read); and Siegfried Sassoon’s “The Redeemer,” “Christ and the Soldier,” “They,” “The Hero,” “The General,” “Glory of Women,” “Everyone Sang”). Be prepared to read aloud and discuss one of the poems. You might also begin reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, which we’ll begin discussing Thursday, September 8. 

For Tuesday, September 6:  Read Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem of Doomed Youth,” (read), “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” “Exposure,” Insensibility,” “The Send-Off,” “Futility,” “Strange Meeting,” “The Sentry,” “Spring Offensive.” By 8pm Monday, September 5, on the Blackboard Discussion page, briefly describe the ways the poetry we have read both confirmed and contradicted your sense of what constitutes "war literature."  And continue reading A Farewell to Arms, which we will begin discussing Thursday. 

For Thursday, September 8:  Be sure to have read the first two books (through page 140) of A Farewell to Arms.  

For Tuesday, September 13:  Finish A Farewell to Arms. On the Blackboard discussion page, discuss the ways war intersects with love and/or gender in the novel. This is due by 10am Tuesday. 

For Thursday, September 15:  No new reading assignment. Think of questions for Ambassador Bernd Fischer, who will join us Thursday to discuss World War I.  We will begin discussing Mrs. Dalloway Tuesday, September 20. 

For Tuesday, September 20:  Continue reading Mrs. Dalloway. Plan to have it finished by Thursday. 

For Thursday, September 22:  Finish reading Mrs. Dalloway. Note the Blackboard discussion question due Monday evening next week comparing the representation of war and/or memory in Mrs. Dalloway and A Farewell to Arms.

For Tuesday, September 27:  By 10pm Monday, respond to the question in Blackboard asking you to compare representations of memory and/or war in Mrs. Dalloway and A Farewell to Arms.  We will begin discussing Night September 29.  Start thinking about paper topics. 

For Thursday, September 29:  Read through page 65 of Night (through the chapter that ends “That night, the soup tasted of corpses”). 

For Tuesday, October 4:  Finish Night.  Be sure to have a topic for your essay; it should be cleared on or before Tuesday. 

For Thursday, October 6:  Begin reading Ruth Klüger’s Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered. MEET ON THE FOURTH FLOOR OF THE LIBRARY FOR A TOUR OF THE ROGERS CENTER. 

For Tuesday, October 11:  Be sure to have read through page 112 in Still Alive. Note the Blackboard Discussion question asking you to compare this memoir with Night, due by 10pm Wednesday, October 12.  And remember that your essays are due October 13.  Bring a hard copy to class, and email a copy to me. 

For Thursday, October 13:  Finish Still Alive. The Blackboard Discussion question asking you to compare this memoir with Night, is due by 10pm Wednesday.  First essays are due October 13.  Bring a hard copy to class, and email a copy to me.

For Tuesday, October 18:  No new assignment.  Begin thinking about brief essay prompts for the midterm October 25.  I’ll ask you to post one before class, Thursday, October 20. 

For Thursday, October 20:  Respond to the Blackboard Discussion assignment to develop one, brief, essay exam question for our midterm October 25.  Prepare any questions you might have for Marilyn Harran.  We’ll begin discussing Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five October 27. 

For Tuesday, October 25:  Prepare for the midterm.

For Thursday, October 27:  Read through the end of chapter 4 (p. 109) of Slaughterhouse Five. 

For Tuesday, November 1: Finish Slaughterhouse Five.  We will begin discussing The Things They Carried on Tuesday, November 8. 

For Thursday, November 3: Respond to the question in Blackboard that asks you to briefly summarize one article concerned with Slaughterhouse Five. 


For Thursday, November 10: Finish The Things They Carried.

For Tuesday, November 15:  Respond to the question in Blackboard asking you to discuss one of O’Brien’s stories in relation to earlier work we’ve read this semester. 

For Thursday, November 17:  Read the first 100 pages of Novel Without a Name.

For Tuesday, November 29:  Finish Novel Without a Name. 

For Thursday, December 1:  No new reading assignment.  Be prepared to tell us the topic of your second essay. 

For Tuesday, December 6:  Respond to the question on Blackboard, asking you to develop a prompt for our final, Tuesday, December 13, 10:45-1:15. 

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