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The 20th Century and War

ENGL 104.401
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30

In this course we will investigate the experience of war in the 20th century. We will read texts that deal with World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and other anti-colonial wars (such as the Algerian struggle for independence and the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya), and possible also the Bosnian conflict. Though our reading list will include some books that deal with the experience of combat, this is far from the sole focus of the course. We will also consider questions of resistance, complicity, conscience, and ethics; civilians’ struggle to survive in, or elude the violence of war; and the traumatic aftermath of conflict. Most importantly, since this is a literature course, we will consider the experimental and innovative narrative forms (including graphic novels and cinematic forms) that evolved over the course of the century to represent these catastrophes. Readings may include: Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory; Marianna Torgovnick, The War Complex: World War II in Our Time; poetry by Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Guillaume Appolinaire, Bertolt Brecht, and John Dos Passos; Pat Barker, The Ghost Road; Hemingway, In Our Time and other selected stories; selected stories by Christopher Isherwood; Rachel Seiffert, The Dark Room; Elise Blackwell, Hunger; Art Spiegelman, Mauss, Ian McEwan, Atonement, W. B. Sebald, Austerlitz and On the Natural History of Destruction; Joseph Heller, Catch-22; Graham Greene, The Quiet American; Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried and Going After Cacciato; Ngugi wa Thiong’O, A Grain of Wheat; J. M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K, Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde. Films may include: Forbidden Art; Apocalypse Now!, The Battle of Algiers, The Fog of War.