This course examines the experience of war from the perspective of the soldier, his or her family, veterans, and prisoners. We will read fictional works and personal narratives, and watch documentary films and Hollywood movies, dating from the Civil War up to and including the War in Iraq. Through these stories we will examine how soldiers cope with the challenges of war, including the “fog” of the battlefield, tests of personal courage; fear of death and injury; and post-traumatic stress disorder.
We will also examine moral questions that arise for soldiers and commanders. We will look at the challenges of war from the perspective of families “on the home front” and the difficulties that veterans face in reentry into civilian life. We will consider how the experience of war may differ for women soldiers and veterans. We will also consider the enemy’s “war stories,” including narratives that convey the experiences of German and Japanese soldiers. We will gain an appreciation of significant differences in how specific wars are portrayed given the perspective and rhetorical agenda of authors and producers.