Germanic Languages | Critical Approaches to Arts and Sciences
C103 | 29207 | Rasch/Elmer

Topic: WAR as Representation and Idea

This class is designed as an introduction to one of the most
persistent and troubling phenomena in human history:  war.  By taking
a very broad historical approach—from Homer’s Iliad right up to the
present—and by mixing a very wide variety of kinds of
representation—philosophical, legal, and theological accounts of war,
photographs and film, poems and fiction, memoirs and diaries, social
psychology and political theory—we aim to achieve two basic goals:

1)  to demonstrate that war is not a single thing, but rather a
complex, multidimensional, ambiguous phenomenon, always subject to
interpretation; and
2)  to demonstrate that humanistic inquiry, with its embrace of
interpretation, its openness to ambiguity and multiplicity of
perspectives, its commitment to dialogue and reason and the variety of
human responsiveness, is the best way to grasp complex moral phenomena
such as war.

The class thus serves both as a hands-on encounter with some of the
most enduring and important representations of war and as an
introduction to the techniques, basic orientations, and special
benefits of different kinds of intellectual discourse (historical
writing, literary criticism, moral philosophy, political theory,
visual studies, etc).

The class is largely lecture-based.  Fridays of each week will be
reserved for smaller discussion groups.  Assignments will consist of
three papers, to be defined and discussed in the Friday sections.

Professor Jonathan Elmer; E-mail: elmerj
Professor William Rasch;  E-mail: wrasch