English R1B

Reading & Composition: No Man's Land--Dividing Lines in the Great War

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2012 Jeziorek, Alek M
MWF 10-11 225 Wheeler

Book List

Barker, Pat: Regeneration; Ford, Ford Madox: Parade's End; Remarque, Erich Maria: All Quiet on the Western Front; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway

Other Readings and Media

A reader containing several English war poets (e.g. Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, etc.), several not-English not-war poets (e.g. W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, etc.), and excerpts from The Last Days of Mankind, by Karl Kraus.


This is the second class in the Reading and Composition series and, as a result, it will focus on the writing process, critical reading, and research, all of which culminate in a research paper due at the end of the semester. This class intends to demystify what appears to be the daunting task of writing a long research-driven paper by focusing on writing as a process with many small steps. To that end, the assignments will consist of essays that work up to the length of a research paper, extensive and repeated revision, peer editing, an annotated bibliography, a presentation of research, and a working outline, among other smaller assignments.

In order to provide a shared framework for our research papers, the reading centers around the Great War and its multiple dividing lines: the representation of the war by soldiers and the representation of the war by civilians; the Western, Eastern, and Home Fronts; and perspectives on the war from the Allied and Central Powers. Far from developing a comprehensive view of all these dichotomies, this class focuses on the difficulty of the dividing line as such. How do English civilians represent a war that they can hear from across the English Channel, but cannot see? How does this historical moment represent the absence of approximately 18,000,000 lives? In trench warfare, No Man’s Land made obsolete clear boundaries of war. How do texts reflect formally this crisis of form represented in the dividing line of war? More abstractly, we’ll think about how the Great War challenges the idea of a dividing line and the clear distinctions created thereby. Beyond these questions, we’ll also explore the interests of the class as they unfold over the semester.

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