War's Broken Boundaries

War, as a certain popular lyric goes, is good for absolutely nothing. But can it help us see ourselves in a different light? In this seminar, we will use this guiding question in order to explore how some of the most important events in American military history have given rise to new ways of conceiving of the United States and of the various aspects of life within it. We will turn our attention to a wide range of works, including Kurt Vonnegut's WWII satire Slaughterhouse-Five, Vietnam-era protest songs, and Maximilian Uriarte's The White Donkey, a graphic novel about the Iraq War and PTSD. As we work our way through these texts and others, we will focus on content, examining how wars have affected the representation of gender, race, age, and sexuality in the US, as well as to form, exploring how authors have called on experimental styles and new or unusual genres in their attempts to depict the magnitude of wartime. We will ask such questions as: In what ways have wars--or the protests that surrounded them--helped shape youth culture in the US? How are women represented in times of war versus times of peace? And how do we think of WWII differently if we read about it in a graphic novel about mice?