Spring 2019 Topic: Ancient and Modern Narratives of War and Dislocation
“No one would be so foolish as to choose war over peace” remarked a character in the work of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus (Histories 1.87). “In peace sons bury fathers, in war fathers bury sons.” And yet, we as humans frequently do choose war, with consequences not just for fathers and sons, but for mothers, daughters, and whole communities. In this class we will be reading works about war and dislocation from ancient Greece and modern America. We will be asking questions like: why do individuals and groups decide to fight? what are the experiences of civilians and refugees? how do our authors portray death in war, and the lives of survivors? and how do they think about those people who are their enemies?
We will be reading from the following works of epic, drama, fiction, history, and memoir:
- Homer. The Iliad.
- Herodotus. Histories.
- Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War.
- Euripides. The Trojan Women.
- Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front.
- Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse Five.
- Tim O’Brian. The Things They Carried.
- Jane Blair. Hesitation Kills.
- Viet Thanh Nguyen. The Sympathizer.