HISTORY 220: WAR, MEMORY, MYTH AND HISTORY -- ON-LINE EDITION
North Island College Winter 2018
Delivery Format: On-Line (Note that there is also a face-to-face version of this course that meets on the Comox Valley Campus in Tyee on Monday and Wednesday at 1:00 pm. You are welcome to show up at this class in-person at any time throughout the semester)
Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith
Office: Village G6
Office Hours: Wed. 11:30 am - 12:30 pm; Thurs. 1:00 am - 2:00 pm (or by appointment)
Office Phone: 334-5000, Extension 4024
Web- Site for Course: http://www.misterdann.com/contentswarmemory.htm
Pablo Picasso, "Weeping Woman" (1937)
Leon Trotsky: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."
"Since wars begin in the minds of men," reads the UNESCO charter, "it is in the minds of men that we have to erect the ramparts of peace." This course explores how humans have struggled to understand, memorialize, and learn from war. Although the course uses a comparative thematic approach, there is a heavy emphasis upon twentieth-century wars, since this will both provide a focus and allow us to probe the politicized relationship between lived memory and history. "War," notes the journalist Chris Hedges, "is a force that gives us meaning." War and Memory aims to use monuments, memorials, museums, myths, paintings, photographs, weapons, flags, cartoons, family stories, novels and movies as sources for thinking about the war in which war is remembered and defined.
Amy Tan: "Memory feeds imagination."
Tim O’Brien, Things They Carried (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012).
David Macfarlane, Danger Tree (Toronto: Harper Perennial Canada, 2014).
Art Spiegelman, Complete Maus (New York: Pantheon, 1997).
Bryan Doerries, Theater Of War: What Ancient Tragedies Can Teach Us Today (New York: Vintage, 2016).
Approaching The On-Line Course
HIS 220 is being offered in both on-line and face-to-face formats this semester, and these two sections will be sharing my public access web-site as the basic resource for the course. I have listed two different syllabi -- one for the in-class section and the other for distance learners. But the other parts of the web-site will be used by both classes.
I do not have an interactive discussion feature on my public access site, so will be using the NIC HIS 220 Blackboard site as the place for on-line discussion (you can reach this through your MyNIC page). The Discussion Forums are meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to engage you with your classmates. I will also invite the face-to-face students to participate in the Blackboard discussions as well. You should contribute to these each week.
Before the start of each week, you should read the "Orientation For The Week" overview on the Syllabus page. It will outline your responsibilities for the coming week, including instructions and links for the Discussion Forums and for any required readings. I will occasionally include some required Listening or Viewing materials. These resources are meant as substitutes for the in-class presentations, though I will also add some slide shows and outline notes from my face-to-face lectures. Any materials listed in the Optional Extras are just that -- interesting supplementary materials connected to the topics under consideration for that particular week.
The most important assignment for the course is the on-going War and Memory Journal. This will consist of a series of commentaries upon the curricular materials. I will provide you with guidance here, though you will have the opportunity to both identify and focus upon some topics of particular interest. The Journal will be graded at the mid-way point of the semester and at the term's conclusion. I expect that there will be considerable overlap between the Journal and the Discussion Forum. The other major project will be the Sites of War Memory assignment, which will be due during the second half of the semester.
Tentative Class Schedule
Week 1 (January 3-14): Whose Ground Zero?: The United States, Japan And War Memory
Orientation For The Week
There are a number of basic steps you should take as you begin this course. One of those is to begin to familiarize yourself with this web-site and with the structure of the course. The key sections of the web-site include this Distance Syllabus, the Journal page, and the Discussion Topic page.
The Journal page includes itemized lists of recommended Journal topics, instructions for the mini-projects (these will be folded into the Journal), and discussion questions for the four core books. We will discuss each of those books at a specific point in the course. I strongly recommend that you purchase all four texts soon.
The Discussion Topic Page includes collected resources on chosen topics for class discussion and debate. In many cases, I provide you with a wide array of sources. I certainly do not anticipate that you will have the time to read all these materials. Rather, the expectation is that you devote at least an hour apiece to careful browsing in each of these sections at the appropriate time in the course. The resources I have provided are not comprehensive but instead are derived from my own internet searches. Please combine the use of these resources with your own independent research.
Another orientation step is to log onto the Blackboard Discussion page. I have included a link to that from this web-site, but it may be easier to just reach it through logging onto My NIC. A third step is the completion of the letter of introduction.
We begin the course with a case study that is loosely organized around the theme of Ground Zero (a metaphor used both for the epicentre of the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City and for the Hiroshima bombing). The focus for this first week will be on September 11th and War Memory, though we will also read an article by the American World War II veteran and literary critic Paul Fussell that discusses the attack on Hiroshima.
I have chosen the September 11, 2001 attacks as a topic for focus for a number of reasons. Throughout the course, one recurring theme will be the relationship between lived experience and history. And although 2001 is beginning to recede into the past, it is recent enough that some of you will have memories of that day, and all of you will know others who can share their personal memories and reflections.
But you are being asked to move beyond the personal for this case study. The debates about the most appropriate ways in which to memorialize September 11th can help to introduce a number of themes that will be recurring ones throughout the course. There are many articles about September 11th and commemoration in the Remembering September 11th Discussion Topic. Think about issues associated with the memorialization of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Note that I have also provided a number of questions for reflection on the Discussion Topic page.
An optional additional exercise is to complete your own design for a memorial to the victims of the World Trade Center attack. Include a rudimentary architect's sketch and write an accompanying journal entry that addresses the following questions: How should September 11, 2001 be memorialized, and why?
I expect you to write at least one Journal entry about September 11th and War Memory. You should also participate in both the September 11th and Thank God For The Atom Bomb Discussion Forums.
Letter Of Introduction
Write a short letter of introduction. Who are you? Where are you from? What are you interests? Why are you taking this course? What are your thoughts on entering the course about the relationships between war, memory, myth and history? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? E-mail me this introduction -- it will then become your first Journal entry of the new semester. This is not a graded assignment and can be from a few sentences to a couple of pages in length. You are welcome to share your letter of introduction with your classmates on the Discussion Forum if you would like to do that.
September 11, 2001 And Collective Memory
Thank God For The Atom Bomb
Browse extensively in the Remembering September 11th Discussion Topic
Paul Fussell, “’Thank God For the Atom Bomb,’” New Republic (August-September 1981).
I recommend that you orient yourself to the basics of the Japan and World War II Memory assignment. Please ask me questions if you need further clarification about how best to proceed.
Walt Whitman: "Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal background . . . and it is best they should not. The real war will never get in the books."
Week 2 (January 15-21): Japan And World War II Memory
Orientation For The Week
The Japan and World War Two Memory mini-project is a small research exercise that asks you to investigate how one particular aspect of Japan's World War II history has been remembered, commemorated, downplayed and/or argued over in the decades since 1945. Our focus will not be upon Japan alone but also on the neighboring Asian nations that were invaded by Japan. We will explore collective memories but also the complex relationship between those memories and contemporary geopolitics.
Complete the following steps:
1) Choose a topic from the Japan and World War II Memory Discussion Topic page.
2) Spend at least 2 hours researching your topic, combining utilization of the resources I have provided with your own supplementary research.
3) Write a mini-essay of a minimum of approximately 2 pages that summarizes and analyzes your findings. This mini-essay can then do double-duty both as a Journal entry and as a mini-essay to share with your fellow students on the Blackboard Discussion Forum site. If you prefer, you can condense your Discussion Forum posting to something much more focused.
Japan and World War II Memory
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Japan And World War II Memory
Lecture: Memories of Fire -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Yasukuni Shrine
Week 3 (January 22-28): The Confederate Flag And The Burdens Of History
Orientation For The Week
We will soon be concluding the preliminary case study that compares American and Japanese memories of war through a particular focus on the "Ground Zeros" of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and New York City. The week deliberately is not an intensive one, and is designed to provide you with an opportunity to discuss the Japan and World War II memory mini-assignments; to offer further commentary associated with the Week 1 and Week 2 Readings and Discussion Topics; and to get a start on reading Tim O'Brien's Things They Carried, which will serve as the focus for next week's work. I have added one new theme for discussion -- the Confederate Flag and American War Memory.
Complete the following steps
1) Read Tony Horwitz's article
2) Browse extensively in both the Confederate Flag In The News and the Confederate Monuments In The News Discussion Topics
3) Contribute at least one Confederate Memory-related commentary to the Discussion Forum
4) Engage in general Blackboard Discussion Forum exchanges on the theme of Japan and World War II Memory.
5) Add comments to Week 1 or Week 2 Discussion Forum and complete earlier Journal entries.
The Confederate Flag, Confederate Monuments and the Burdens of History
Tony Horwitz, “A Death For Dixie,” New Yorker (March 18, 1996): 64-77.
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Confederate Flag In The News
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Confederate Monuments In The News
"The Fog Of War" (Sony Pictures, 107 minutes, 2003): This documentary focuses on the life and thoughts of Robert McNamara, a controversial American Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. It links World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War, and should help to set up the Things They Carried.
The focus for next week will be Tim O'Brien's novel Things They Carried. You should read this collection of stories from cover-to-cover and then offer commentary upon the book both in your Journal and in the Discussion Forum. The theme for Week 5 will be the recurring monumental motif of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Each of you will research the history of one of these national monuments and then share your findings with the class.
Week 4 (January 29-February 4):Things They Carried
Orientation For The Week
The one responsibility for the week is to read and analyze Tim O'Brien's Things They Carried. You should write a substantial Journal entry about that book and ideally also contribute shorter remarks about O'Brien and his work to the Discussion Forum. One Journal approach would be to write an integrated response to the Things They Carried (What did you find most interesting about the book? How would you make sense of the book as a whole? What themes stand out as particularly worthy of being highlighted and explored?). I have listed some Discussion Questions below and in the Journal section of the web-site. If you prefer to break your Journal entry into different components, a second alternative Journal approach would be to write paragraph answers to a few of the listed questions.
O'Brien, Things They Carried
Tim O'Brien, Things They Carried
The focus for next week will be on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier mini-research assignment. Several nations have Tombs of an Unknown Soldier as central war monuments. I would like each of you to pick a nation and then research the history of the particular monument. You do not need to begin your research this week but should choose your national case study.
Week 5 (February 5-11):Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier
Orientation For The Week
Many nations honour the tradition of a tomb that contains the remains of an unidentified soldier. Although this idea pre-dates World War I, it is associated with that war beyond all others. The small research assignment for this week asks you to research the history of one particular tomb and then write a Journal entry (approximately 2+ pages) about that monument. The entry, like your Japan and World War II Memory mini-assignment should also be shared with your classmates in the Discussion Forum. I have a series of questions that may help guide you in your research listed at the top of the assignment instructions (you can access those immediately below or through the Journal section of the web-site). You do not need to answer each and every one of those questions but they do provide basic orientation. You should explore not just the origins of the monument but also its history since its dedication. How has it been folded into national rituals and the national memorial landscape? What events have happened at or close to the monument and how have different people struggled to make sense of these events? Have there been particular controversies? What statements about war, war memory and national sacrifice have been made at or about the monument? I have provided links to a small handful of relevant web-sites. I have not provided a comprehensive series of links, however, and expect you to engage in independent research to find all that you can about your particular Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A second theme for the week is War and Photography. I have chosen five famous or "iconic" photos from twentieth-century history. I have then collected a series of resources that offer information not just about the circumstances behind the photographs but material about the lives of the individuals associated with the image and the history of the image itself. Browse extensively in the Iconic War Photos Discussion Topic and write both a Journal Entry and ideally also a Discussion Forum contribution in response to this reading.
Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier
Iconic War Photos
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Iconic War Photos
We will conclude the course with a small exercise focused on War and Family Memory. That assignment is outlined in the Journal section of the web-site. Some of you may appreciate the opportunity to research your family's past and to think about the similarities and differences between family story and national story. Others of you may find it difficult to connect up war stories with your personal family history. You will not be forced to do so. However, I've included this Looking Ahead note here in case you want to plan a family interview or research at a convenient time in the coming weeks.
***First Half Journal Due Friday, February 9
Lewis Carroll: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward."
February 12-16: Reading Break
Week 6 (February 19-25):In Flanders Fields
Orientation For The Week
Macfarlane, Danger Tree
Discussion Topic: Vimy In Myth And Memory
David Macfarlane, Danger Tree
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Vimy In Myth And Memory
One major second-half course responsibility will be completing Sites of War Memory project. This will involve researching 6 or more particular sites (Battlefields, Museums, Monuments) associated with war and its remembrance. You will be asked to provide a summary of your research findings and analysis for each of these sites. You should also write a page or more of overall conclusion.
We will devote Weeks 9 and 10 to work on this assignment. It is due on Thursday, March 22nd and will count for 20% of your course grade.
A number of pages on the Journal Section of the War and Memory teaching web-site provide orientation for the assignment.
Clicking on the Sites of War Memory assignment (http://www.misterdann.com/memoryassites.htm ) provides access to instructions for the assignment and a long, alphabetically-organized list of some possible sites. Note that while I provide a link or two here to identify the site, this is a project that will be dependent upon your independent research. You should try to find a minimum of 5 sources for each of your sites and also should include a bibliography with the assignment.
There is also a downloadable template (Sites of War Memory Template) on the Journal page. You should download a copy of the template and then fill out the boxes for each of your chosen sites.
It is not mandatory that you choose a given theme or themes that link your different selections. I strongly recommend that you consider that approach, however, since I think it will provide more meaning to the exercise and facilitate comparative analysis. I thus have listed some Possible Themes and some of the Sites of War Memory that fit within each theme ( http://www.misterdann.com/memoryasthemesforsites.htm ). See if there is one or two of these that seem interesting to you.
You are not restricted to the themes or indeed the sites that I have provided.
I think that the Sites of War Memory Assignment is a very worthwhile exercise but one that will take some planning ahead. Deciding upon your topic and your approach will frame the assignment. I would like you to take on these preliminary tasks in a serious way this week.
Otto Dix, "Flanders"
Pablo Picasso: "Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war." 
Week 7 (February 26-March 4): The Great War At 100
Orientation For The Week
We are in the midst of a series of 100-year anniversaries associated with the First World War. This week we look back at the Great War with an emphasis on how the events of that conflict have been etched onto the public consciousness. One Discussion Topic assembles a series of general 100-year-anniversaries reflections. We then move our focus to today's Turkey. That often-neglected theatre of the war was the scene for the death of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenian Genocide and the 1915 Allied defeat at Gallipoli. But it was also the crucible for the birth of the new Turkish Republic and for the development of powerful national mythologies in Australia and New Zealand. The Gallipoli and Armenia Discussion Forums are thus integrally linked together. Turkey has been chosen as one case story to assess the layered complexities of war and memory.
Armenia And World War I
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: The Great War At 100
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Australia And World War I
Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Armenia And World War I
Week 8 (March 5-11):Complete Maus
Orientation For The Week
Your responsibility for this week is to read and analyze Art Spiegelman's Complete Maus. You should write a substantial Journal entry about that book and ideally also contribute shorter remarks about Maus to the Discussion Forum. As with Things They Carried, I would recommend choosing between an integrated book response and answering a number of the questions listed with my reading guide. Maus is an interesting memoir about not only Holocaust survival but about the relationships between the generations and the burdens of the past.
Spiegelman, Complete Maus
Art Spiegelman, Complete Maus
Lecture: The Holocaust And The Limits Of Representation
I have posted some author interviews and book reviews at the bottom of the Maus reading guide (located in the Journal section of the web-site). You may find it helpful to listen to and read a few of these materials.
Your other responsibility for this week is to further familiarize yourself with the Sites of War Memory project and to continue to outline how you will approach it.
Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem
Week 9 (March 12-18):Sites Of War Memory Research And Preparation
Orientation For The Week
Sites Of War Memory Workshop
Week 10 (March 19-25):Sites Of War Memory Presentation
Orientation For The Week
Student Mini-Presentations: Sites Of War Memory
***Sites Of War Memory Assignment Due Thursday, March 22
Week 11 (March 26-April 1): Theater Of War
Orientation For The Week
Doerries, Theater Of War
Bryan Doerries, Theater Of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today
Lecture: O Sing Of The Wrath Of Achilles -- Ancient Greece And War Memory
Week 12 (April 2-8): War And Family Memory And Course Wrap-Up
Orientation For The Week
The focus this week is on family memory. You should write a Journal entry that is somehow connected to the theme of your family and war history. That entry could be a general summary of different ways in which the history of your family and war has intersected. It could be a focus on one war. It could be an entry based upon one family member, alive or dead, or it might be the summary of an interview with a family member. You are encouraged to share this entry with your classmates on the Discussion Forum page, though there is no need to do so if you prefer to keep your entry private. I recognize that this mini-project may not work for some of you. In that case, you are welcome to skip over the assignment. I have included the instructions I handed out to the face-to-face class for War and Memory. You need not fit your entry or approach neatly into one of the models outlined in these instructions, though they may prove helpful to you.
War And Family Memory
Martin Tupper: "Memory is not wisdom; idiots can by rote repeat volumes. Yet what is wisdom without memory?"
***Second Half Journal Due Friday, April 13
|First Half Journal||35%|
|Second Half Journal||25%|
|Sites Of War Memory||20%|
Milan Kundera: "The struggle against power is the struggle of memory over forgetting."
The Journal (60%):
The student journal is the main assignment in this class. The purpose of the journal is to provide you the opportunity for frequent thoughtful, analytical and personal commentary upon course-related material. The advantages of the journal, to my mind, are that it breaks work down into regular and manageable chunks, and that it enables you to seize hold of the curriculum in a way which reflects your own interests and style.
The journal will be graded in two installments. It will be due just before Reading Break. This installment will count for 35% of the course grade. The journal will then again be due at the end of the semester. This installment will count for 30% of the course grade.
In order to give you a basic structure and to clearly communicate my expectations, I will specify certain mandated entries. However, you are encouraged to be imaginative in your probing of the complex connections between War, Memory, Myth and History.
The entries will, no doubt, vary in format, length and quality. Do not hesitate to take risks and to express your own opinions. It's fine if some entries read more like summary than analysis. It can be useful to put what you have learned from an article or a video into your own words. Try, however, not to succumb to the temptation to write in an easy, stream-of-consciousness style. There is no inherent tension between analytical rigour and personal insight.
A list of recommended entries is included below and on the Journal page of the course web-site. But I do challenge you to ask yourself throughout the semester how you best can use the Journal requirement as a way of fostering your own learning.
The excellent journal will:
¨ be at least 25 pages long.
¨ include a Things They Carried Reading Response (2+ pages).
¨ include a Danger Tree Reading Response (2+ pages).
¨ include a Maus Reading Response (2+ pages).
¨ include a Theater Of War Reading Response (2+ pages).
¨ include the Letter of Introduction; the September 11, 2001 Memorial and/or commentary; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier mini-project; the Japan and World War II mini-project; the War and Family Memory mini-project; and the Reflections on War and Memory thought-piece.
¨ include at least 2 Discussion Topic commentaries.
¨ include at least 1 reading response to assigned articles.
¨ demonstrate to the instructor that you are approaching the readings and the course with care and effort.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, (Seville) Spain, 1933
Helen Keller: "I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding that bringeth peace."
Sites Of War Memory Assignment (20%):
You will research the history of various monuments, memorials, battlefields and other symbolic war memory sites as way to compare how different groups have remembered, commemorated, and reinterpreted the meanings of war. This assignment will be due on March 19 in connection with informal in-class student mini-presentations.
Class Participation (20%):
The class participation grade will be based upon your participation in the on-line Discussion Forums. This will be the one place where you will have the opportunity to interact with your classmates.
The Discussion Forums will be located on the Blackboard Learn companion web-site. I will post at least one Discussion Question each week. But you are also encouraged to initiate your own threads and to share Journal entries with your classmates. I hope that the Discussion Forums will encourage thoughtful interactive dialogue and that it will also serve to break down the sense of isolation that can be associated with on-line learning. Each of you should ask yourself how best to combine this component of the course with the Journal. The two assignments are meant to complement each other, and it is fully appropriate to draw extensively from your Journal for the Discussion Forums.
My expectation is that your should contribute to the Discussion Forums on a weekly basis. Each Discussion Forum will remain open until the end of the semester.
W.H. Auden: "To save your world you asked this man to die. Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?"