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Assignment Questions

American Literature and War

War Writing in American Literature

Everything we have read thus far this semester deals in some measure with the difficulty of writing about war. ( vonnegut slaughterhouse five and tim o’brien the things they carried)

Using examples from at least two texts and, more importantly, your own original thinking, write me a paper that, in the first part, talks about why war is so hard to get right in literature.
? What are the hardships you feel these writers face?
? How do Civil War writers deal with the problems of writing about war?
? How does Vonnegut?
? How does O?Brien?
? Which approach do you like best and why?

In the second part of your paper I want you to tell me how YOU would write a war story.
? What war would you choose to write about? Why?
? What elements/feelings would be most important? Loss? Anger? Regret? Pain? Power? Love? Landscape? Alienation? Risk? Connection with other soldiers? Cause? Nation? The ?otherness? of the enemy?
? Would you use the first person or an omniscient narrator? Why?
? In terms of style would you go for straight realism? Romanticism? Post-modernist fragmentation? Why?
? What boundaries or rules of storytelling would you break if any?
? What truth about war would you try to get across, if any? (And if you don?t want to get a truth across in your story, why not?)
? Would you try to tackle the experience of killing? Why or why not? If you would, how might you do it?
? How would you like your audience to feel after they read your story?

In your conclusion tie the two parts of the paper together. In other words, talk about how thinking about writing your own war story connects with the styles and ideas and difficulties of the texts you discuss in the first part of the paper.

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