North Island College Fall 2021

Meeting Time: Tues: 10:00 am - 12:50 pm

Meeting Place:  DIS 204

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office Phone:  334-5000, Extension 4024

Office Hours:  Tuesday: 1:30-4:30 pm (or by appointment)

Web- Site for Course:  https://www.misterdann.com/contentswarmemory.htm

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca

North Island College is honoured to acknowledge the traditional territories of the combined 35 First Nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw and Coast Salish traditions, on whose traditional and unceded territories the college's campuses are situated.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's final report calls for 94 actions toward restoring a balanced relationship between indigenous peoples and settler communities in this country.

Pablo Picasso, "Weeping Woman" (1937)

Leon Trotsky: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."

Course Description

"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: Mariner, 2009).

Art Spiegelman, Complete Maus (New York: Pantheon, 1997).

***It is important that you acquire these books.  Both the Things They Carried ($25) and the Complete Maus ($47) are available for purchase through the NIC Bookstore.  I have also included a link to an e-text for the Things They Carried above ($10).  One copy of both Maus I and Maus II (the two volumes together comprise the Complete Maus) are on short-term reserve at the Comox Valley branch of the NIC Library.

Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1:  Course Introduction

Tuesday, September 14

a)  Course Introduction

b)  Introduce Japan and World War II Mini-Assignment

c)  Video: "Aftermath -- The Remnants Of War, National Film Board of Canada, 2001.  [73 mins]

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.  It 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.

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:  Whose Ground Zero? (I): The United States, Japan And War Memory

Tuesday, September 21

a)  Discussion: Hiroshima And Nagasaki Anniversaries

b)  Discussion: Thank God For The Atom Bomb

c)  Lecture: Memories Of Fire -- Hiroshima And Nagasaki

d)  Possible Video: "Death Before Surrender," Episode 2, Horror In The East, 2000.  [47 mins]

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in the Hiroshima And Nagasaki Anniversaries Discussion Topic

Paul Fussell and Michael Walzer, “Thank God For the Atom Bomb and An Exchange On Hiroshima,’New Republic (August-September 1981).

Optional Extras

"Atomic Cafe," 1982.  [86 mins]

Week 3: Whose Ground Zero (II)

Tuesday, September 28

a) Student Mini-Presentations: Japan And World War II Memory

b)  Discussion:  The Twentieth Anniversary Of 9/11

c)  Lecture:  September 11th And Historical Memory

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Japan And World War II Memory

Browse extensively in the Remembering September 11th Discussion Topic

***Sunday, October 3:  Journal Check-In Due through Blackboard Learn (Use either the Regular Journal [Option 1] or the Note-Taking/Journal Combo [Option 2] format). This is an ungraded but compulsory submission.  I want to see that you are off to a solid start with your Journal.


Week 4Things They Carried

Tuesday, October 5

a)  Discussion: Things They Carried

b)  Video: "Once Upon A Time In Iraq," Frontline, PBS, July 14, 2020 [113 mins] or "The Fog Of War," 2004 [107 mins]

Reading Assignment

Tim O'Brien, Things They Carried.  New York: Mariner, 2009.

Listening And Viewing

"Heaven And Earth: Le Ly Hayslip," Documentary, BBC World Service, February 4, 2015.  [28 mins]

Lewis Carroll:  "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward."

Week 5:  Iconic Photos

Tuesday, October 12

a)  Discussion:  Iconic Photos

b)  Introduce Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier Mini-Assignment

c)  Video: "Francisco Goya -- The Third Of May 1808," Private Life Of A Masterpiece, BBC, 2004.  [48 mins]

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Iconic War Photos

Optional Extras

Jordan G. Teicher, "Is War Photography Beautiful Or Damned?," New Republic (November 19, 2015).

Susan Sontag, Regarding The Pain Of Others.  New York: Picador, 2003.

***Sunday, October 17:  HIS 220 Journal Due through Blackboard Learn (Use either the Regular Journal [Option 1] or the Note-Taking/Journal Combo [Option 2] format)  [30% of Course Grade]

Otto Dix, "Flanders"

Pablo Picasso:  "Painting is not done to decorate apartments.  It is an instrument of war." [1944]

Week 6:  The Art Of War

Tuesday, October 19

a)  Mini-Lecture And Discussion:  Guernica, Historical Memory, And The Art Of War

b)  Video: "Rape Of Europa," 2008.  [117 mins]

Reading Assignment

David Rieff, "The Cult Of Memory: When History Does More Harm Than Good," Guardian, March 2, 2016.

Browse extensively in the Guernica Discussion Topic

Henri Cartier-Bresson, (Seville) Spain, 1933

Helen Keller:  "I do not want the peace that passeth understanding.  I want the understanding that bringeth peace."

Week 7 Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

Tuesday, October 26

a)  Discussion: Confederate Monuments In The News

b)  Student Mini-Presentations: Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

c)  Lecture:  Confederate Monuments And Collective Memory


Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in the Confederate Monuments In The News Discussion Topic

Listening And Viewing

"How Southern Societies Rewrote Civil War History," Vox, October 25, 2017.  [7 mins]

"How The 'Lost Cause' Narrative Became American History," Washington Post, March 5, 2020.  [8 mins]

Optional Extras

"The Unknown Soldier," Documentary, BBC World Service, November 8, 2020.  (27 mins)

*** Tuesday, October 26: Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier Powerpoint Due through Blackboard [12%]

Week 8:  The Great War And Modern Memory

Tuesday, November 2

a)  Discussion: Gavrilo Princip, Franz Ferdinand, Gallipoli, and Vimy Ridge

b)  Introduce Maus Mini-Assignment

c)  Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Mini-Presentations

d)  Discussion: Remembering The Armenian Genocide

e)  Video: "War Without End," Episode 8, Great War And The Shaping Of The 20th Century, PBS, 1996.  [55 mins]

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Gavrilo Princip And Franz Ferdinand In Myth And Memory

Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Gallipoli And World War I

Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Vimy Ridge In Myth And Memory

Browse extensively in Discussion Topic: Armenia And World War I

Optional Extras

"Remembering The Armenian Massacres," BBC Persian, April 23, 2019.  (41 mins.)

Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem

Week 9Complete Maus

Tuesday, November 9

a)  Mini-Lecture:  Collective Memory And Social Theory

b)  Introduce Sites Of War Memory

c)  Discussion:  Maus

d)  Video: "The Last Survivors," Frontline, PBS, 2019.  [55 mins]

Instructions For Maus Mini-Essay


Reading Assignment

Art Spiegelman, Complete Maus.  New York: Pantheon, 1997.

Optional Extras

Browse in Discussion Topic: Auschwitz At 75

"Germany: Justice And Memory," Documentary, BBC World Service, January 15, 2020.  [53 mins.]

Heather Souvaine Horn, "Facing Up To The Past, German-Style," New Republic (October 31, 2019).

*** Sunday, November 14:  Maus Mini-Essay Due through Blackboard [12%]

Week 10

Tuesday, November 16

a)  Sites Of War Memory Workshop

b)  Lecture:  Holocaust And The Limits Of Representation

c)  Video: "A License To Remember: Je Me Souviens," National Film Board Of Canada, 2003.  [51 mins]

Week 11Sites Of War Memory Research

Tuesday, November 23

a)  Sites Of War Memory Workshop

b)  Discussion: Theater Of War

c)  Lecture:  O Sing Of The Wrath Of Achilles -- Ancient Greece And War Memory

Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in the Theater Of War Discussion Topic

Week 12Sites Of War Memory

Tuesday, November 30

a)  Student Mini-Presentations: Sites Of War Memory

Martin Tupper:  "Memory is not wisdom; idiots can by rote repeat volumes.  Yet what is wisdom without memory?"

***Sunday, December 5:  Sites Of War Memory Assignment Due through Blackboard [20%]

Assignments And Evaluation

Letter Of Introduction




Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier PPT


Maus Mini-Essay


Sites Of War Memory


Class Participation And Discussion Forum Contributions


Milan Kundera:  "The struggle against power is the struggle of memory over forgetting."

Letter Of Introduction (1%)

Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester.  This should be at least one hundred words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might best serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole. You need not use the following questions as direct cues but they may be helpful.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far away?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections on entering the course about the relationships between war, memory, myth and history?  Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?  Submit your Letter of Introduction and Reflections to me through the Blackboard Learn site (https://learn.nic.bc.ca).  This submission then can become your first Journal entry of the new semester and can be paired with your Reflections entry that you will write at the end of the course.  I ask for letters of introduction from students in each of my classes.  If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, though you should include opening reflections upon War and Memory and should also say something about each of the classes in which you are enrolled with me as your instructor.  If you have taken a class with me before, please update what you sent me before and send me a new letter of introduction. 

Journal (30%)

The student Journal will be the most substantial assignment in this course.  It will represent your on-going engagement with the first six weeks of the core class curriculum.  The focus of the Journal should be on analysis, interpretation, and commentary.  It should consist of a series of short writings of varying lengths about the course material.  I refer to these short writings as entries.  The purpose of the journal is to provide you with the opportunity for frequent thoughtful and analytical commentary upon course-related material.

I have provided you with two different options for the Journal: (1) The Regular Journal; or (2) The Note-Taking/Journal Combo.  These are described in detail on the Assignment Page of my web-site.  You should familiarize yourself with these two models and make a clear choice between the options at the beginning of the course.

This assignment is designed to be coordinated with the on-line Blackboard Discussion Forums.  Your Journal entries will overlap with many of the Discussion Forum topics.  It is fully appropriate to share commentary from your Journal with classmates in the relevant Pandemic Playhouse or Discussion Topic Forums.

It is expected that you work regularly on the Journal throughout the first half of the semester.  You will need to hand in the Journal to me twice.

You will submit your Journal-in-Progress to me through the Blackboard site at the end of the fourth week of the semester on Sunday, October 3.  This will be an ungraded but mandatory hand-in.  I want to check to ensure that you are off to a good start and that we share a mutual understanding as to the nature of the assignment.

The Journal will again be due at the end of the sixth week on Sunday, October 17.  You should include all the Journal work you have completed to this point in the semester as a single file through Blackboard at this time. This submission will be graded and is worth 30% of your course grade.

I use Journals in some of my other classes and often have them as semester-long projects.  That is not the case in HIS 220, however.  After the end of Week 6, you will move onto other assignments, though you will still be expected to do your best to keep up with the core syllabus materials and to include commentary upon several different resources in your Discussion Forum Contributions.

Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier Powerpoint (12%)

You will research one country's national Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument and produce a Powerpoint presentation that combines images and texts to tell the history of that monument.  You will submit the assignment both to be graded and to share with your classmates.

Maus Mini-Essay (12%)

This assignment will be your written analysis (approximately 3 double-spaced pages in length) of Art Spiegelman's graphic novel about the lives of his Auschwitz survivor parents and their relationship with him.

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.  You will be encouraged to focus upon a chosen theme or themes and will be asked to share the results of your research with your fellow students.

Class Participation And Discussion Forum Contributions (25%)

The class participation grade will be based upon attendance; pre-class preparation; and the willingness to contribute thoughtfully to group discussion.

HIS 220 will combine lectures and documentaries with extensive discussion.  Sometimes we'll devote an entire class period to a particular text.  Other times, we will have a shorter but focused conversation about a particular topic.  Occasional ungraded and informal individual and group mini-presentations will also be folded into the course.  I would like to encourage a classroom environment in which all are eager to share their ideas and in which lectures are accompanied by thoughtful dialogue.  This will be dependent not just upon your willingness to speak, but your pre-class preparation and your willingness to listen.  The significant class participation component derives from my belief that the most engaging and successful courses are not ones in which knowledge is merely transferred from instructor to student but in which a genuine learning community exists in which all participants share their perspectives and insights.

 Although attendance is not required, I will take roll, and those who are not in class regularly will receive a poor grade for this part of the course.

There is a corresponding Digital Unscheduled section of HIS 220 offered this semester.  I have set up Discussion Forums on Blackboard Learn for those students.  You have access to the combined HIS 220 Blackboard site and are encouraged to make a few contributions to these on-line discussions.  You should consider this to be a far less important responsibility, however, than coming to class regularly well-prepared and willing to contribute to our in-class learning.

I do appreciate that some students are shy or for other reasons may find it intimidating to speak in our group setting.  I do want these students to push themselves to try their best to engage with the class.  I will nonetheless be understanding of these students so long that they can clearly demonstrate to me by other means that not only do they come to class but that they do so well-prepared and are engaged with the material.

Time Commitment

Although the time it takes individual students to complete course responsibilities varies individually, I have set up the course with the expectation that you will probably need to devote at least four hours a week to this course on a regular basis right from the start of the semester.  It is important that you not fall behind on your assignments.  Please stay in close communication with me and let me know if you are experiencing challenges in keeping up with the curriculum.

Late Policy

The curriculum for this course is organized on a week-by-week basis, in which most assignments are cumulative and on-going.  Discussion amongst students is also dependent upon classmates keeping current with their studies.  Late assignments are also often an extra burden from an instructor standpoint.  Due dates should be noted and met.

However, I appreciate that there may be occasions where a very few extra days to polish an assignment in the midst of competing deadlines can be helpful, and thus I deliberately assume a good-faith effort on the part of students to meet the due dates and provide a small cushion of flexibility without any academic penalty.   That does not mean the due dates are unimportant or that extensions are automatically granted.  You must discuss possible extensions with me directly and I reserve the right to refuse to accept any late assignment if you do not check in with me before the due date.  As a general rule, no assignment will be accepted more than two weeks late and no end-of-the-semester assignment will be accepted more than one week late.

Discussion Forum contributions should ideally be made the week of the discussion itself and will be considered late if made more than two weeks after we have moved to a new topic.  Your ability to maintain this schedule will have a major impact upon your Discussion Forum Contributions Grade.

Writing Support And Peer Tutoring

Writing Support is available to all students at no additional cost.  Go to Writing Support for any or all of your assignments.  Every visit is a step toward becoming a better writer.  Use Writing Support as many times as you like, and at any point in your writing process.  The writing support faculty can help you understand the assignment, develop your ideas, outlines, thesis, and revision -- and anything else in-between.  Book your appointment through the library website, or visit the library desk to inquire about drop-ins.  There's also WriteAway, an online tutoring platform that allows you to upload your papers and assignments for detailed written feedback.  Both services may be found at https://library.nic.bc.ca/WritingSupport .

Student Technical Services

Our Student Technical Service team is available to help you with any technical issues that you may be experiencing as a student.  Please go to https://library.nic.bc.ca/studenttech for more information.

Learn Anywhere

NIC's Learn Anywhere website is geared to provide a collection of information that will help you be successful learning digitally by covering area such as: What is digital learning? How to be a digital learner while using NIC-supported technologies during your studies? A list of key skills and knowledge all students should have for successful learning in today's world, knowing your rights and responsibilities and Technology Readiness Checklists. More details at: https://learnanywhere.opened.ca/

Community Supports (24/7)

There are several supports available to help any student in distress. If you are in distress, please reach out for support.

Vancouver Island Crisis Line:  24/7 1-888-494-3888 (Available to students located on Vancouver Island only)

Crisis Suicide helpline:  24/7 1-800-784-2433 (Available to students located in Canada only)

BC 211:  Full list of community services available across BC.  Dial 2-1-1 on BC cellphone (Available to students located in BC only).

Here2Talk24/7 counselling support for post-secondary students: 1-877-857-3397 (Available to students located in Canada and offshore).

A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in being reported to the Academic Integrity Committee and in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty about what is permitted here.  I want to help you to get as much out of this course as possible but, for this to happen, you need to put forth strong and honest effort.

Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)

W.H. Auden:  "To save your world you asked this man to die.  Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?"



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