Fall 2013 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Cohen, Milton
Discipline and Number
HUSL 6304 Section 501
M Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
American War Literature

Description of Course:

War has always exerted a particular fascination for writers because, even in new settings, its inherent themes are timeless, as valid for Hemingway as for Homer: courage and cowardice, the rites of passage for 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 will figure into our study of American war literature from the Civil War to Afghanistan. Novels (and the soldier's experience) predominate, but we shall also consider war from other perspectives and in other voices: e.g., the war correspondent, the nurse, the parents of a soldier, the super-patriot, the anti-war draftee, and the soldier trying to readjust to civilian life.

Genres include: novel, memoir, short story, sketch, poem, and journalism. Subgenres and themes include: the globalist war novel vs. the microcosmic; the initiation narrative; subjective vs. impersonal realism vs. metafiction; black humor and science fiction; anti-war and pro-war narratives.

Required Texts:

Required Textbooks
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:

oral report (ca. 45 minutes), seminar paper (ca. 15 pp.), class participation

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