Fall 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Cohen, Milton
Discipline and Number
LIT 4348 Section 001
MW Time 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM
Course Title
Amer. War Lit: Civil War-Afghan

Description of Course:

War has always attracted writers because even in new settings its inherent themes are timeless, as valid for Hemingway as for Homer: courage and cowardice, the initiation and testing of youth, and the demands of the state versus the moral code of the individual. Even modern subversions of these themes--antiwar, antiheroic, iconoclastic--pay them ironic homage.

These themes and others as well appear in our sampling of American war literature from the American Civil War to Afghanistan. War novels (and the soldier's experience) predominate, but we shall also consider war--in stories, sketches, poems, and journalism--from other perspectives and in other voices: e.g., the war correspondent, the nurse, the parents of a soldier, the super-patriot, the political idealist, etc.

This diversity applies also to the course's anticipated audience and requirements: Non-majors are welcome, and assignments will offer alternatives to conventional literary analysis.

Required Texts:

Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (Norton edition)
Wharton, A Son at the Front
Hemingway, Complete Short Stories
Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
Heller, Catch-22
Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5
O'Brien, The Things They Carried
Powers, The Yellow Birds
Parnell and Bruning, Outlaw Platoon
packet of readings including poetry, short fiction and journalism

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Students may choose their graded projects from several options, including two short analytical or interpretive papers (c. 5 pp. each), one longer research paper (c. 10 pp.), historically based papers that include at least one literary work, creative projects, oral reports, or panels. Class participation (including several reaction papers) counts heavily.

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