English | Projects in Reading & Writing: The Responsibilities of War
W170 | 16564 | Wilkes

TOPIC: THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF WAR:  Representation, Reality, and
•16564	MWF		12:20-1:10pm		BH 137	Wilkes
•21675	MWF		1:25-2:15pm		BH 344	Wilkes
War: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, or something too
important to overlook? How should war be represented in movies, on
the news, in video games, in novels? Who has the right to talk about
war? Is it really true that the first casualty of war is truth? Does
war demand that those who participate in it also attempt to
represent it to non-participants? Is this demand the real
responsibility of war? We will tackle these (and other) questions in
this course by examining representations of war in a variety of
media—from the film 300 and Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus to
the famous flag-raising photo at Iwo Jima and the World War II-
inspired video game series Call of Duty. Throughout the course—which
students should note is an academic writing skills course above all
else—we will keep in mind two questions: Can the reality of war ever
be adequately represented? and What meaning can we find in
representations of war? We will also discuss the phenomenon of
propaganda, keeping in mind that one person’s truth is another
person’s propaganda. Because war can be such a polarizing political,
moral, and ethical topic, it poses quite a challenge to objectivity,
which is an integral part of the critical and analytical reading,
writing, and thinking skills this course teaches. Students who have
strong feelings or opinions about war should note that while we will
examine texts to which one often cannot help but react on a personal
level, we will seek to analyze representations of war rather than
engage in debates on the topic. Finally, despite the gripping nature
of the course’s content, students should remember that this is a
writing course designed to prepare freshmen for the rigors of
writing in an academic setting. By grappling with the difficult
questions of war, we will develop the strong reading, writing, and
thinking skills necessary to answering those questions.