Honors | Visualizing War (HON)
H204 | 7884 | John Lucaites

MW 11:15am-12:30pm

"War" magnifies the fundamental problem of representation:  It
is a phenomena that can only truly be understood by those who have
experienced it, but that experience can never be communicated in any
exacting way.  The implications of this dilemma lash back and forth
throughout the history of the rhetoric of war (and peace), leading in
the later part of the 19th-century to the conclusion that photography
provides a clear record of the nature of war.  From the middle of the
19th century forward, photography has been one of the primary media
of communication employed to report and remember events designated
as "wars."  Indeed, from the Civil War forward, each subsequent war
has been dubbed by someone as "the" visual war, as advancing
technologies have increased the ease with which the "reality" of war
can be visually recorded and "experienced."  One might even argue
that with the events of 9/11 we have come full circle as war is
literally experienced visually in the here-and-now by an entire

The goal of this course is to explore the dilemmas and paradoxes of
war rhetoric, especially for liberal-democratic polity, as they are
engaged and negotiated in and through the visualization of war.  We
will begin with consideration of the photographic representations of
the Civil War and work our way forward to considerations of the ways
in which wars are visually constituted in a variety of visual media,
including photojournalism, film (both documentary and fiction),
television, poster art, various forms of animation, sculpture and
statuary (including memorials), and the "new technologies" made
available through web-casting and the like.

Course "readings" will draw from a wide variety of sources including
journal articles and book chapters by historians, rhetoricians, and
art/photography/film critics, as well as a wide range of visual
texts, including paintings, cartoons, photographs, video/film, and
computer graphics. Indeed, one of the primary goals of the course is
to help evaluate the semiotic and rhetorical complexities and
complicities of visual texts with the same kind of intensity that is
typically reserved for written or oral texts.

Course assignments will include : (1) journal entries on class
readings, writings, and discussions; (2) three or four short essays
(3-5 pp.) analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating specific visual
representations or war; and (3) a group project addressed to an
audience outside of the class and designed to communicate the
problems and paradoxes posed by the visual representation of war in
a liberal- democratic polity.