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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: American War Fiction (ENLI10385)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will look at American war narratives from the nineteenth century to the contemporary period. There is no duplication between materials in this course and those on courses taught by myself and other colleagues in the field of American literature. The popularity of 'The Modern American Novel' fourth-year Core course, and the comments from students on that course that they have little or no knowledge of American history and/or literature beyond their pre-honours lectures, suggests that this would be a popular addition to our third-year course provision. The breadth of historical coverage on the course, and the diversity of narrative styles considered - historical romance, naturalism, fractured modernism, parody, new journalism, popular adventure, postmodern historiography - will allow students to consider how formal questions impact on historical interpretations of war and its aftermath.
Course description The study of fictional war narrative necessarily entails engagement with a number of intellectually, emotionally and pedagogically challenging issues, such as: the relationship between personal trauma and broader socio-political events; the difficulties inherent in literary representations of war and conflict; the tension between hegemonic political/historiographical discourse and individual representations of war and its aftermath; the importance of war in the formation of American political discourse.. As the course is directly interested in narrative fiction of the United States of America, critical attention will be paid to the ways by which writers sought to represent the USA's growing military and economic power, the centrality of the Civil War (1861-5) to both American history and literary culture, and the effects of American journalism in particular on developments in American war fiction since the 1950s.
Students will look at developments in American war narrative from Israel Potter (1855) Melville¿s transatlantic romance of the American Revolutionary War; through late-nineteenth century naturalist (Crane), temporal experimentational (Bierce), and twenty-first century historiographical (Doctorow) renderings of the Civil War; modernist figurations of WWI (March and Stein); humanist satire on WWII (Vonnegut); journalistic-crossover Vietnam War narratives (Herr and O'Brien); expansionist satire (Stone); contemporary PTSD narrative (Powers); and African American experimentalism (Williams). Across the course, attention will be paid to formal literary developments and their fittingness or otherwise for the problematic war content which they have been deployed to represent.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesA MINIMUM of 4 college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as cross disciplinary, "Freshman Seminars", civilisation or creative writing classes are not considered for admission to this course.
Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course having four or more literature classes at grade A.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Other Study Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) 1 hour per week autonomous learning
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Course Essay: 30%«br /»
Exam Essay: 60%«br /»
Course Assessment: 10%
Feedback Detailed written feedback will be provided on each element of assessment, and further oral follow up feedback from the tutor will be available from anybody who would like it.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate their understanding of critical issues in relation to war fiction as an engagement with historical and historiographical issues
  2. Demonstrate their understanding of critical issues in relation to war fiction as an engagement with questions of the representation of trauma
  3. Communicate their understanding of these issues through reference to both primary and broader contextual materials
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of some specific political, historical, and broadly cultural aspects of the history of the USA, as they may relate to the primary materials
Reading List
Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. Norton 2008.
Doctorow, E.L. The March. Abacus 2006.
Herr, Michael. Dispatches. Picador 1991.
March, William. Company K. Apollo Library 2017.
Melville, Herman. Israel Potter. Penguin 2008.
O¿Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Flamingo 1991.
Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds. Sceptre 2013.
Stone, Robert. A Flag for Sunrise. Picador 2014.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. Vintage 1991.
Williams, John A. Captain Blackman. Coffee House Press 2000.

Barrett, Laura, and Seymour, Eric. ¿Reconstruction: Photography and History in E. L. Doctorow¿s The March¿. Literature & History, 2009, Vol.18(2), pp.49-60.
Boyle, Brenda M.,ed.. The Vietnam War : topics in contemporary North American literature. London. Bloomsbury Academic 2015.
Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford. OUP 2000.
Hayes, Kevin J. The Cambridge introduction to Herman Melville. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press 2007. Literature & History, 2009, Vol.18(2), pp.49-6
¿¿ Stephen Crane. Tavistock. Northcote House, 2004.
Hellman, John. Fables of Fact : the new journalism as new fiction. Urbana Illinois; London. University of Illinois Press 1981.
Hutchison, Coleman, ed. A History of American Civil War Literature. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press 2015.
Klinkowitz, Jerome. The Vonnegut Effect . Columbia SC. University of South Carolina Press 2004.
Kunze, Peter C. ¿For the Boys: Masculinity, Gray Comedy, and the Vietnam War in Slaughterhouse-Five¿. Studies in American Humor, 2012, Vol.3(26), pp.41-45.
Muller, Gilbert H. John A. Williams. Boston: Twayne Publishers 1984.
Munro, C. Lynn. ¿Culture. and Quest in the Fiction of John A. Williams¿. CLA Journal 22 (1978): pp.71-100.
Peebles, Stacey. ¿Fighting to understand: violence, form, and truth-claims in Vonnegut, and Herr¿. Philological Quarterly 2005, Vol.54(4), pp.479-496.
Solotaroff, Robert. Robert Stone. New York. Maxwell Macmillan International 1994.
Spanos, William V. Herman Melville and the American calling : the fiction after Moby-Dick, 1851-1857. Albany NY. State University of New York Press 2008.
Smith, Virginia Whatle. ¿Sorcery, double-consciousness, and warring souls: An intertextual reading of Middle Passage and Captain Blackman¿. African American Review. Winter 1996, Vol. 30 Issue 4, pp.659-675.
Trudi. Tate. Modernism, history and the First World War. Manchester. Manchester University Press 1998.
Van Deusen, Marshall . ¿The Unspeakable Language of Life and Death in Michael Herr's Dispatches¿. Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction,. January 1983, Vol.24(2), pp.82-87.
Walcott, Ronald. ¿The Early Fiction of John A. Williams¿. CLA Journal 16 (1972): pp.198-213.
Walsh, Jeffrey. American War Literature, 1914 to Vietnam. London. Macmillan 1982.
Wicks, Amanda. ¿¿All This Happened, More or Less¿: The Science Fiction of Trauma in Slaughterhouse-Five¿. Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, 27 May 2014, Vol.55(3), pp..329-340.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills As an outcome of having studied this course, students will benefit from having developed a range of personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 10 characteristics:
Knowledge and understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their critical understanding of a range of the principal theories and concepts of literary analysis in relation to their reading and discussion of the course material;
Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion, presentations and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these theories and concepts in their construction of arguments about the course material;
Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing assessed essays and class presentations, students will have practiced identifying, defining, conceptualising and analysing complex problems and issues germane to the discipline;
Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists;
Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and take responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
KeywordsAmerican fiction,war,trauma,historiography,modernity,new journalism,politics
Course organiserDr Keith Hughes
Tel: (0131 6)50 3048
Course secretaryMrs Anne Mason
Tel: (0131 6)50 3618
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