Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 544: Topics in Literature: War

Instructor: Mika Elovaara

War is one of the most prevalent topics in literature through the ages. Whereas ancient tales, epics and myths often focused on the battles and heroics of war, the more recent literature on war has introduced various perspectives on war. Today, the genre of "war literature" includes a wide array of angles, from the traditionally heroic accounts of survival and patriotism to the critical views by soldiers, veterans, and civilians.

This is a reading-intensive course that examines primarily American literature inspired by war. Starting from Mary Rowlandson's famous narrative of her captivity during the clash of civilizations between the settlers and the natives in the late 1600s and working our way up to the present day and the war in Iraq, we will study literary accounts of war from a variety of viewpoints. The course readings include various forms of literature - poetry, fiction, a graphic novel and memoirs among others, and the subject matter ranges from Women's Indian Captivity Narratives and the story of Geronimo ("The Great Patriot Warrior") to the more extensively documented wars (e.g. The Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and WWII, The Vietnam War) America has experienced throughout its independent history. As a result of our study, the students should gain a deeper understanding for various aspects regarding many of the wars that have touched America as a nation and learn that war as a recurring experience in human society brings out human emotions and behavior of timeless nature; often most accurately and vividly narrated and described in works of literature.

This is the first time this class will be taught online. Developing online courses is consistent with the university's goal to remain up to date in contemporary pedagogical progress and to make higher education available to a wide student population. While the online environment will obviously make our class interaction different from the traditional on-campus classes, it is imperative that the students understand that consistent and continuous interaction is still at the heart of successful class dynamics regardless of the possible learning environment and medium. This class is asynchronous for the most part, but you will be expected to participate in assigned activities every week. As this is a course for an interdisciplinary program, students are not expected to master literary theories and apply them to the assigned readings; we will primarily utilize elements of reader response theory (which should be somewhat familiar to you after the first couple of weeks of class) in our approach to the readings.

The students are required to purchase the following textbooks for the course:

Reading List:

  • Geronimo
  • Women's Indian Captivity Narratives
  • Martin, Joseph, P.: A Narrative Of A Revolutionary Soldier
  • Crane, Stephen: The Red Badge Of Courage And Four Stories
  • Spiegelman, Art: The Complete Maus
  • O'Brien, Tim: The Things They Carried
  • Bowden, Mark: Black Hawk Down
  • Buzzell, Colby: My War
  • Penguin Book Of First World War Poetry

In addition, completing the course successfully requires being able to use the internet throughout the semester and owning a webcam, speakers and a microphone to interact with the instructor and your fellow students.

Last Update: December 21, 2011