Jose Francisco Benitez
Focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of the humanities with an emphasis on writing. Investigation of forms and methods the humanities employ to explore life's biggest questions. Team-taught lectures and discussion sections for freshmen. Offered: W.
"Violence, Myth, and Memory" is built around three popular films: Apocalypse Now: The Director's Cut (2001, orig. 1979), The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), and Fight For Us (1989). All were filmed in the Philippines. We will use these films as starting points to explore ideas of violence, narrative, and global modernity in U.S. relations with Viet Nam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. We will trace the ways in which these films evoke founding myths of Southeast Asian societies, regulate ethnic and religious tensions, and reflect anxieties about modernity. For Viet Nam, we will read Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War to investigate celebrated stories of female courtesans who serve as metaphors for the beleaguered nation. We will read Jessica Hagedorn's novel Dream Jungle about two seemingly distinct events in the Philippines under Marcos: the discovery of a Stone Age tribe and the filming of Apocalypse Now. We will look at how colonial encounters (with both Spain and the U.S.) and the Catholic passion play serve as a complex founding myth for lowland Filipino society. Turning to Indonesia, we will see how the film and novel of The Year of Living Dangerously resemble a Javanese shadow play, with characters modeled on mythical images drawn from Indic Mahabharata stories. The movie and novel explore the U.S. and British involvement in the fall of Indonesia's first president Soekarno in 1965-66 and the violence that accompanied his fall.
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