Five Mondays: January 29; February 5, 12, 19, 26 1:30-3:30 pm
The Great War is now considered to be the first phase of a 30-year conflict. Some scholars even argue that World War I ended with the fall of the Soviet Empire or is still being felt today in the Middle East. This may be an extreme interpretation, but it takes no hyperbole to say that the Great War changed Western culture and its subsequent history forevermore. In this conflict where at least 15 million died, nothing escaped unscathed; not beliefs, values, literature, politics, or families. As the last few World War I veterans have passed from the stage, the impact of their actions remains strong with us today. It is hard to imagine Eliot, Hemingway, or Fitzgerald; the “Roaring Twenties” or the Great Depression; and Fascism and Communism without the war. According to Paul Fussell, the dominant characteristic of the Great War was satire and irony--the absurdity of almost every aspect of daily life in the trenches. In this course we will attempt to explore these issues through readings about the war itself and in the memoirs and poetry of some of its most literary participants.
William Rogers, recently retired Associate Dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, has taught American history and Irish/Irish-American history and literature at Caspersen and helps lead study trips to Ireland. His field of study includes the impact of war on American culture and society.