War is the subject of some of the very oldest and most enduring human writings. The hero of the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest known major literary work, longs for the life of a warrior. Roughly thirteen hundred years later, Homer set The Iliad against the backdrop of the Greeks’ siege of Troy. In this course, we’ll examine war as portrayed in fiction, poetry, and drama in English from the Middle Ages until now. We will use this examination as a means to achieve the course’s primary objective, namely to develop your ability to read literature more alertly and perceptively, then analyze, discuss, and write about it in a way that is clear, thoughtful, and insightful. We'll be reading a wide range of genres including, but not necessarily limited to, poetry, short stories, dramas, and novels. You will probably be familiar with some of the authors: Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and Stephen Crane, for example. However, there will be others, such as Robert Service and Anton Myrer, that you’ve probably never heard of, but who will round out your understanding of war literature in ways you don’t expect.
Course requirements include quizzes, short written homework responses, three short papers, a mid-term, and a final exam.