War Stories
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students
Department: Humanities
Course Number: NLIT 3606
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
In his stirring "Beyond Vietnam" speech, delivered at Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, "Somehow this madness must cease." Despite general agreement on the "madness" of war, it is one of the constants of human history. This course examines the genre of the war novel (and the war movie), considering lived experience in the context of culture, history, and politics. We study classical narratives, war and antiwar films, art, poetry, memoirs, and letters from the front. In our reading of modern war stories, we explore constellations of madness and themes of gender and patriarchy, love and war, trauma and suffering, and individual and collective memory. The course takes a comparative perspective, covering American, French, German, and Spanish novels: Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms (1929), Manuel Rivas' The Carpenter's Pencil: A Novel of the Spanish Civil War (2002), Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas (1938), Marguerite Duras' The War: A Memoir (1944), and memoirs and letters treating the current war in Iraq. We also discuss films, including Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937) and Alain Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour, and cubist, expressionist, and surrealist art.
Course Open to: Degree Students