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Syllabus for War Class 2017

War in the Christian Tradition

Amy Laura Hall

Mondays 2:30-5:00

 

January 11

“Blackwater as Ecclesiological Problem” (8 of 25 on this site) https://issuu.com/prismmagazine/docs/on_being_the_church

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, January 17, 1961 (and related documents) https://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/farewell_address.html

President John F. Kennedy’s Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963 https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/BWC7I4C9QUmLG9J6I8oy8w.aspx

Augustine, “On Lying”

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1312.htm

 

January 23

Bigger, Stronger, Faster (film available online and at Lilly Library)

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/movies/30bigg.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1151309/

 

These two news items:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2015/11/06/Department-of-Defense-paid-53-million-to-pro-sports-for-military-tributes-report-says/stories/201511060140

https://sports.vice.com/en_us/highlight/stephen-a-smith-points-out-nfls-paid-patriotism-problem

 

January 30

Fog of War (film available online and at Lilly Library)

http://www.errolmorris.com/film/fow.html

 

“The Inner Ring”

http://www.lewissociety.org/innerring.php

 

February 6

Borderline (please purchase and read entire book)

https://wipfandstock.com/borderline.html

 

February 13

Borderline

https://wipfandstock.com/borderline.html

 

February 20

Borderline

https://wipfandstock.com/borderline.html

 

February 27

Guest Speaker, William Joseph (Joe) Stewart, “How Ideology Became Policy: The U.S. War in Iraq and the Role of Neo-conservatism”

 

March 6

The Shock Doctrine (please purchase and read entire book)

http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine

 

March 13 (Break)

 

March 20

The Shock Doctrine

http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine

 

March 27

The Shock Doctrine

http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine

 

April 3

Guest Speaker, Dr. Kara Slade, “The Technology of War”

 

April 10

The Terror Dream (please purchase and read entire book)

http://susanfaludi.com/terror-dream.html

 

April 17

The Terror Dream

http://susanfaludi.com/terror-dream.html

 

In his documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Chris Bell begins with the World Wide Wrestling Federation’s version of geopolitics, as Hulk Hogan battled The Iron Sheik during the 1984 season.  Bell tells a story about his two brothers on steroids, but the film is also about what makes a man a man in the U.S., and how athleticism and militarism have been intertwined to confuse, amuse and distract.  (Bell points out that Congress spent more hours during 2005 investigating and discussing steroid use in Major League Baseball than on the response to Hurricane Katrina or the Iraq War.)  In this class, we will consider how stories about war, faith, and patriotism shape North American, mainstream culture.  A line from The Clash’s “Clampdown” inspired this syllabus: “We will teach our twisted speech, to the young believers.  We will train our blue-eyed men to be young believers  . . .”  I am interested in twisted speech, violence, and belief.  We begin with an essay on Blackwater as a problem of belief, two historic speeches that name both opacity and a growing culture of militarism in the U.S., and a classic, Christian text on lying.  We will then move to two films that describe masculinity, war, and culture, and a classic text on the allure of belonging. Borderline and The Terror Dream are self-explanatory, if you look up the links.  The last time I taught this class, a person currently in the U.S. military recommended I teach a book on non-military forms of coercion in geopolitics. The Shock Doctrine is my attempt to answer his request.  Two guest speakers, Dr. Kara Slade and Joe Stewart, will speak from their expertise, on war and rhetoric.

 

Assignments and Grading: Regular, weekly attendance and participation (30% of your grade); weekly 2-3 page close-reading papers (double-spacing) on the assignments (70% of your grade).  I will explain in detail the close reading format of the papers at our first session.  Papers will be due weekly at class time beginning on January 23.  Last close reading paper due April 17.  I will not accept papers by email.  Participation does not necessarily mean speaking in class.  Listening closely to and asking helpful questions of other students also constitutes participation.

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