SoSe 15: All's fair in love and war: War Literature from the Civil War to Iraq
War, according to Ernest Hemingway, is the writer's "best subject," since it "groups the maximum of material and speeds up the action and brings out all sorts of stuff that normally you have to wait ... read more
War, according to Ernest Hemingway, is the writer's "best subject," since it "groups the maximum of material and speeds up the action and brings out all sorts of stuff that normally you have to wait a lifetime to get." It is also a most difficult subject: how to convey the existential experience of a soldier at war and of a civilian caught up in a war, how to write of unspeakable atrocities, how to act as witness and remember the dead, how to maintain balance between individual and collective experience, on the front lines and at home.
The way war is fought has changed much over the last 150 years, yet much has also stayed the same - likewise, accordingly, have the central themes of the writing on war. Using key texts from major U.S. conflicts - the Civil War, World War I and II, the Vietnam War and Iraq & Afghanistan - this seminar explores how different eras have sought different means to express these issues. Working on a decidedly male-dominated genre dealing with an equally male-dominated topic, one theme we will pay particular attention to is the changing portrayal of the roles and (aesthetic) representation of women characters.
We will read both fiction and nonfiction, novels, short stories, poetry, and authors will include Stephen Crane, Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Herr, Tim O'Brien, and Phil Klay.