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Representing War in the Twentieth Century

ENGL 461.640
crosslisted as: CINE 500
instructor(s):
T 5:30-8:30

In this course we will investigate the experience of war in the twentieth century, from a largely literary, but also cinematic, art historican, and historical point of view. We will read texts that deal with World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the bombing of German cities and Hiroshima, the conflict in Vietnam and other anti-colonial wars (such as the Algerian struggle for independence), and possible also the Bosnian conflict. Though our reading list will include some books that deal with the experience of combat, that 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, 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 will include: Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory; poetry by Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owens, Siegfried Sassoon, Guillaume Appolinaire, Bertolt Brecht, and others; Pat Barker, The Ghost Road; Hemingway, In Our Time; Rachel Seiffert, The Dark Room; Art Spiegelman, Maus, Ian McEwan, Atonement, W.B. Sebald, Austerlitz, Graham Greene, The Quiet American; Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried, Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde, and J.M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K. Films will include: Between the Lines, Degenerate Art, The Battle of Algiers, and The Fog of War.