Literature and War

This course will examine the challenges, problems, and opportunities of war, that great crisis of human civilization which causes normal rules and values to collapse into conflict and disorder. Beginning with an examination of ancient warrior cultures and proceeding to a close analysis of portrayals of modern war, students will read some of the great works of the canon of war literature, seeking to understand both the experiences portrayed by these works and the authors’ goals and techniques in attempting to capture and convey them. Possible texts include Homer’s Iliad, Shakespeare’s Henry V or Macbeth, Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and a selection of short fiction and poetry.