Projects in Reading & Writing

TOPIC: The Responsibilities of War

7400 9:05a - 9:55a MWF WH 006

INSTRUCTOR: L. Wilkes

War: What is it good for? Aboslutely 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 Full Metal Jacket 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, 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 anlytical 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.