Reading About War|
Fall 2009 not offered
This course offers students the chance to read, and think, about war in various and often opposing ways, from the medical to the philosophical, the literary to the historical. Some of what we'll be reading makes for very tough reading. At times, no doubt, the questions we ask of certain books will seem outrageous, irrelevant, disrespectful. Still, we should be prepared to ask some of those "big" questions, if only to keep us from succumbing totally to outrage and horror: How do people understand and write about war? Do women, men, and children share identical experiences, or has war affected each differently over time? What, if anything, do all wars share in common? What, if anything, do the prosecutors of war share with war's victims? Is there a difference between prosecutors and victims, combatants and noncombatants? Can you study early modern wars, such as King Philip's War and the American Revolution, in the same way that you might study, say, World War I or Vietnam? In ranging widely across time and somewhat widely across space, the course readings should provoke at least as many questions as they do answers. Such a scattershot approach may seem unorthodox at best, perhaps moronic at worst. But there's a point. Too often scholars isolate themselves from one another; they divide themselves into specialties (and subspecialties within subspecialties). And when they do, they become purveyors of a dangerous assumption: that nothing is consistent across time and space. We want, in 13-odd weeks, to wrestle with that assumption and to grapple with how war transforms lives. Above all, we want to deepen our sense of human frailty and to expand our empathic powers, even as we train a discerning eye on the very sources that provoke in us the most distressing emotions.
This course requires students to spend considerable time evaluating and interpreting primary sources: images, objects, documents. The course also requires students to write critically and imaginatively about primary as well as secondary sources--e.g., articles and books written by modern historians.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)
Memoirs, letters, diaries; major works on the history and philosophy of war.
|Examination and Assignments: |
Reading responses, presentations, two essays.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Students are required to submit a brief writing sample as an application.
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