War and Rumors of War
T-Th 10:00 - 11:20 (D38)
Teacher: John Sheehy
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The twentieth century was the bloodiest century in history: for the first time technology made it possible for armed forces to engage in routine attacks on civilian populations, to kill indiscriminately and from a distance, to destroy entire cities from the air, to threaten the annihilation of humanity itself. Our experiences with war in the last century have set the stage for the wars we fight today; more than that, our responses to today's twenty-first century conflicts are predicated on ways of thinking about war, and about humanity, that have their roots in the wars of the twentieth century.
In this course, we will attempt to understand the wars of the last century, and the ways of thinking they have engendered, by looking at various cultural reactions to them: these will include books like Josheph Heller's classic war novel Catch-22, Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, along with more recent fiction and nonfiction by Bao Ninh, Tim O'Brien, Jonathan Krackauer and others. We will look at films as well -- William Wyler's "The Best Days of Our Lives," Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket," and as many more as we can fit in. And of course, we will write about all of it: expect at least three major papers, culminating in a research paper, and weekly shorter writing assignments. Discussions of the text will alternate with work on writing: conferences, writing workshops, and discussions of style and structure.