History | Memory, Film, and America's Wars
J400 | 3562 | Bodnar


Above class open to majors only
Above class open to undergraduates only
J400:  Prereq. HIST-J300

This course is an intensive writing seminar for history majors and
will explore the various ways war has been remembered in American
politics and culture since 1918.  Through readings, discussions and
student writings this seminar will analyze the problem of war and
remembrance in American society and  the constant tension all
nations experience between the need to see their military conflicts
as noble and virtuous undertakings and the inevitable emergence of
critical perspectives on the suffering and dying.  There is much at
stake, including the desire of nations to retain the loyalty of
citizens who must sacrifice and the interest governments have in
escaping culpability for inflicting mass death.  Ultimately the
study of war and remembrance has a great deal to do with identity—or
how nations see themselves.

The seminar will proceed by looking at various forms of remembering
such as political debates, literature, memorials, and –particularly—
film.  Attention will be given to World War I, World War II, Korea,
Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Students will be asked
to write a few very short papers and one longer paper of about 10-12
pages.  Grades will be based on oral reports of reading assignments
and participation in class and on the writing assignments
themselves.  Students will also make a presentation in class on
their 10-12 page paper.

Students will read scholarly literature on the problem of
remembering, novels of war, veteran reminiscences, accounts of
controversies over how to memorialize wars, and view relevant
films.   Key books for the course will include  John
Bodnar, "The “Good War” in American Memory";  Patrick Hagopian, "The
Vietnam War in American Memory";    Tim O’Brien, "The Things They
Carried"  (Mr. O’Brien is currently scheduled to appear at IU in
October, 2011);   Richard Slotkin, "Gunfighter Nation"  and others.
The list of possible films and novels is nearly endless.