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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laurie J Sears
HIST 346
Seattle Campus

Images of War in History, Literature, and Media

Explores images of war generated by historians, writers, artists, filmmakers, television producers, and journalists, analyzing the perspectives on war adopted by various observers to see what motivates their representations. Focuses on ways in which various media shape images of war and the effect of this shaping on human consciousness.

Class description

This course explores how nations and governments get their citizens to give their most valued possessions—their children— to the state for war. To answer this question, we will look at how ideologies of war are constructed in media, religion, education, and popular culture. The course is an attempt both to analyze society and to change it. I examine two examples of how literature and religion support the need for war in my lectures:

We will look at 1) the Mahabharata stories that are still dominant cultural narratives in many countries of Asia and 2) at the Viet Nam Wars from both Vietnamese and American perspectives. In addition, we will focus on technologies of war and on the impact of the atomic bomb in Japan. In addition to lectures, we will be seeing a variety of films and videos: commercial films, documentaries, art films, dramas, etc. Through our exploration of visual images, fiction, history, religion and narrative, we will try to gain an understanding of how we might be able to change the images and ideologies of war that circulate in the public sphere.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

There will be lectures, films, meetings with writing partners and discussion sections each week. The discussion sessions will be held within the scheduled class meetings. The discussion sections will integrate the reading assignments with material presented in the lectures. These discussion sessions are considered an integral part of the course. Students who feel shy about speaking in class can get discussion credit for bringing comment cards with questions and queries to discussions. Attendance at lectures, films, and discussion sections is mandatory.

There are five very readable books assigned for the class and there will be additional readings assigned throughout the quarter that will be available either on reserve in the Undergraduate Library or for sale at Ram’s copy center on University Avenue. Students are required to turn in three 4 page type-written double-spaced papers discussing the readings, films, and lectures that we have seen in the previous weeks. You will do well on these papers if you can convince me that you have read the assignments and attended the lectures. Papers that do not address the reading assignments and lectures will not get a good grade. Improvement will be rewarded. The History department has a Writing Center where you can get help with papers.

In addition to these writing assignments, each student will participate in a group project. Groups will be formed by the end of the second week. Students will have some class time to meet with their group and will also be expected to devote time out of class to the group project. The presentation of the projects will take place during the last two weeks of the course. These projects will include the making of documentaries, news broadcasts, art films, dramas, visual arts, and performance art.

· Each short paper 20% [x3 papers=60%] · Discussion 15% · Final project 25%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Edmund K. Kamai
Date: 01/29/1999