English R1B

Reading & Composition: The Poetics of Honor

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Spring 2014 Acu, Adrian Mark
MWF 3-4 222 Wheeler

Book List

Appiah, Kwame Anthony: The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen; Conrad, Joseph: Lord Jim; Kleist, Heinrich: The Marquise of O - and Other Stories; Silkin, Jon: Penguin Book of First World War Poetry


We tend to think of honor as the quintessence of achievement: a blanket term covering a wide range of excellences.  But why do we pursue honor when it so often fails to benefit us? The First World War is often considered to be the event that marks the death of the honor-ideal because of how callously honor was utilized to send a generation to the terror of the trenches.  So why do we care about honor still?  Why did we ever?  

In this class, we study this ubiquitous cultural phenomenon by considering the concept’s development through depictions of honor prior to and after the First World War.  By juxtaposing the historical development of the British and American “honor economy” with four of its most commonly encountered forms—duels, wars, ethical decisions, and gameplay—we will find ample material for research projects that investigate how honor was interrogated and informed by the culture it was meant to guide.  


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