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Posts Tagged ‘Maus’

Jeff Withington, posting at the US Naval Institute blog, shared an email exchange he had with Admiral Jim Stavridis on the value of an English major and the impact it has had on his life.  Admiral Stavridis also recommends a “must-read” list for midshipmen before receiving their commission. Well, I have one-upped the admiral.  In the fall, I will be offering an American literature course entitled “Survey of American Literature: Narratives of War, 1865-Present.”  You don’t even have to be a midshipman or an English major–only a student at the University of Florida.

“Narratives of War” will focus on novels, short stories, films, and memoir that deal with aspects of armed conflict since the end of the Civil War.  The course will encourage students to think critically about an number of issues including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder, women in the military, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Arab-Americans after 9/11, Revolution in Military Affairs, and counterinsurgency.

My inspiration for the course was John Nagl’s characterization of American military culture as one of survival in the face of existential threats. That culture of survival permeates all of American culture including the struggles facing various waves of immigration, the GLBT community, and Arab Americans post-9/11. As diverse as America itself, our military faces many of these same challenges.

There are no shortage of texts, so it is inevitable that I will miss some here or there. My goal was to cover a wide swath of historical periods and genres. There may be some changes, but here it is as it stands today:

Week 1
Monday (8/24): Course overview and introductions; reading journal explained

Wednesday (8/26): American Civil War; Walt Whitman, selected poems

Friday (8/28): Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1-75)

Week 2
Monday (8/31): Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (76-152)

Wednesday (9/2): selection, Ambrose Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “A Son of the Gods,” “One Officer, One Man,” and “One of the Missing” (Available at The Ambrose Bierce Project, http://www.ambrosebierce.org/works.html)

Friday (9/4): Spanish-American War; Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden” [Available at http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_2/kipling.html%5D; Mark Twain, “To the Person Sitting in Darkness” [Available at http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.3/twain.htm%5D

Week 3
Monday (9/7): No class

Wednesday (9/9): Stephen Crane, “The Open Boat” [Available at http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/CraOpen.html%5D

Friday (9/11): September 11th; Flight 93, directed by Peter Markle (in-class screening)

Week 4
Monday (9/14): 9/11 and Arab Americans; Randa Jarrar, “Lost in Freakin’ Yonkers” and “A Frame for the Sky” (course packet)

Wednesday (9/16): Introduction to Research Writing: Asking Questions and Finding Answers; Group Activity on Topics, Questions, and Problems

Friday (9/18): World War I; selection, Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (3 – 35) [course packet]

Week 5
Monday (9/21): Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (36 – 74) [course packet]

Wednesday (9/23): Ernest Hemingway, “Soldier’s Home”

Friday (9/25): Research Writing, continued: Sources and Citation

Week 6
Monday (9/28): World War II; Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (part 1)

Wednesday (9/30): Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (part 2)

Friday (10/2): Research Writing, continued: Claims and Support; for class discussion, watch the following WWII Disney Propaganda films: “The Spirit of ’43” [Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqMVpcbhpqw%5D, “Der Fuerher’s Face” [Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZiRiIpZVF4%5D, “Commando Duck” [Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H81Nna8fo5g%5D

Week 7
Monday (10/5): Vietnam War; selection, Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Wednesday (10/7): selected poems, Yusef Komunyakaa

Friday (10/9): Revolution in Military Affairs; selected military technology articles; Donald Rumsfeld, “Secretary Rumsfeld Speaks on ‘21st Century Transformation’ of U.S. Armed Forces,” US Department of Defense, January 31, 2002 [Available at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=183%5D; John Nagl’s and Frederick Kagan’s responses in Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife [e-reserve] and Finding The Target: The Transformation of American Military Policy [e-reserve]

Week 8
Monday (10/12): Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1-75)

Wednesday (10/14): Heinlein, Starship Troopers (75-150)

Friday (10/16): No class

Week 9
Monday (10/19): Heinlein, Starship Troopers (150-225)

Wednesday (10/21): Heinlein, Starship Troopers (225-272)

Friday (10/23): 1991 Gulf War; Jean Baudrillard, “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place,” Jarhead [in-class screening]; Reading Response Paper due

Week 10
Monday (10/26): Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; selection, Gabe Hudson, Dear Mr. President; James J. Lindsay, Jerome Johnson, E.G. “Buck” Shuler Jr. and Joseph J. Went, “Gays and The Military: A Bad Fit,” The Washington Post, 15 April 2009, A19; Andrew Exum, “DADT and the Age Gap,” Abu Muqawama

Wednesday (10/28): The War in Afghanistan and the 2003 Iraq War; Colby Buzzell, My War: Killing Time in Iraq (1-75)

Friday (10/30): Buzzell, My War: Killing Time in Iraq (75-150)

Week 11
Monday (11/2): Buzzell, My War: Killing Time in Iraq (150-225)

Wednesday (11/4): Buzzell, My War: Killing Time in Iraq (225-300)

Friday (11/6): Buzzell, My War: Killing Time in Iraq (300-368)

Week 12
Monday (11/9): Women in the Military; Kayla Williams, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army (1-75)

Wednesday (11/11): No class

Friday (11/13): Williams, Love My Rifle More Than You (75-150)

Week 13
Monday (11/16): Williams, Love My Rifle More Than You (150-225)

Wednesday (11/18):Williams, Love My Rifle More Than You (225-300)

Friday (11/20): Williams, Love My Rifle More Than You (300-320)

Week 14
Monday (11/23): Counterinsurgency; Spenser Ackerman, “Women Prominent in Defense Movement (Seventh in a Series: The Rise of the Counterinsurgents),” The Washington Independent; Research Paper (First Draft) due

Wednesday (11/25): Montgomery McFate, “The Military Utility of Understanding Adversary Culture”; Roberto J. González, “Towards mercenary anthropology? The new US Army counterinsurgency manual FM 3-24 and the military-anthropology complex”; Montgomery McFate, “Building Bridges or Burning Heretics?”

Friday (11/27): No class

Week 15
Monday (11/30): No class; student conferences (required)

Wednesday (12/2): No class; student conferences (required)

Friday (12/4): No class; student conferences (required)

Week 16:
Monday (12/7): Unmanned Systems; Sig Christenson, “Air Force looks to keep more pilots grounded,” MySA.com; David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum, “Death from above, outrage from below,” Eagle Eye, directed by DJ Caruso [in-class screening]

Wednesday (12/9): Conclusion; Research Paper (Final Draft) due

I will be interested to hear your feedback on the syllabus. If you are a student at UF, the course is AML2070: Section 1625. I would welcome any cadets or midshipmen from the ROTC program.

I may require a blogging component to students’ reading journal, because I am sure students will have some great perspectives not only on the works themselves but also the issues we will cover together.

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