Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Vietnam, Politics, and Film

Instructor: Ray Mize

Platoon DVD coverPaco's Story bookcover Full Metal Jacket DVD ad

This course is designed to examine what has been described as one of the most divisive and costly periods in American history, costly monetarily as well as emotionally. This course affords us an opportunity to examine the treatment of the Vietname era in the fiction that came out of the experience, as well as the popular cultural perception as dramatized in the movies. The fictional works we will examine are those generated by veterans themselves.

Course Objectives:

  • To understand the historical context of the Vietnam War
  • To understand the spirit of the age, that is the social, political, cultural, and religious influences
  • To compare and contrast the mood of the country from JFK's election to the Nixon era
  • To understand the difference between the events, often as presented by the veterans themselves, and popular culture's representation of them
  • To cite possible reasons as to why America became involved in Southeast Asia and why, by the 1970's, it was important to leave
  • To examine movies, not as the docu-dramas of today, i.e., Black Hawk Down, but as popular culture as opposed to historically accurate representations
  • To analyze the content and intent of each work studied
  • To identify the impact of the writers and the period on the present

Featured Films:

Apocalypse Now
Full Metal Jacket
The Green Berets

We Were Soldiers


Phillip Caputo, A Rumor of War
Graham Greene, The Quiet American
Larry Heineman, Paco's Story
Michael Herr, Dispatches
Bao Ninh, The Sorrow of War
Tim O' Brian, The Things they Carried

A class schedule for the semester will be provided in the written syllabus provided on the first day of class.

Last Update: October 4, 2006