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Assignment Questions

Historical Contexts and Literature

Required Text:
# Craig, A. et al. (2009). The heritage of world civilizations, brief edition, Vol II(8th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
# Rubenstein, R. & Larson, C. (2002). Worlds of fiction (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

1. Read the following sections from The Heritage of World Civilizations:
o Chapter 29, “Imperialism and World War I”
This chapter discusses Europe’s pursuit of imperialism and alliances in the late nineteenth century, and the First World War that followed.
o Chapter 30, “Depression, European Dictators, and the American New Deal”
This chapter discusses several key concepts regarding politics and economics in the decade of the 1920s and it does so from various cultural perspectives.

2. Read one (1) of the following stories from Worlds of Fiction:
o Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried”
o Yvonne Vera, “In Africa There is a Kind of Spider”The readings for the week are diverse and drawn from a variety of literary forms. Themes include love, loss and war.

3. Roberts, D. “The End of the First World War.” The War Poetry Website. 2009. David Roberts, Web. 04 Sep 2009. . This is an extract from chapter 10 of a book titled Minds at War, an anthology of poetry of the First World War by David Roberts.
Recommended Readings
1. Pasco, A. H. (2004). Literature as Historical Archive. New Literary History, 35(3), 373 – 395.
o In this article, Allan Pasco comments that while literary works would not normally provide exact information about speeches, laws, wars, or coal production, they do serve particularly well for insight into common opinions and attitudes, everyday life. He poses the question: Can literature legitimately serve as a historical archive? (see attached)
1. Watch the video entitled War Poetry, Wilfred Owen located at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7cJSfA-_hM. This video contains biographical information on Wilfred Owen and a few of his WWI poems.

Discussion 3.1
After reading “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien located on page 713 of Worlds of Fiction, develop a 250-300 word post exploring the following question: how and why do literary accounts of war allow us insight into a historical event? You might ask yourself such questions as: how does the reality of war differ from the romantic image of war? How does war change the combatant? What do soldiers value in the midst of war?

Discussion 3.2
Why did Germany lose World War I? Assess the settlement of Versailles. What were its benefits to Europe, and what were its drawbacks? Construct a 250-300 word post answering these questions.
1. Read the following sections from The Heritage of World Civilizations:
* Chapter 31, “World War II”
This chapter discusses the origins, course and consequences of World War II
* Chapter 32, “The West Since World War II”
This chapter surveys the decades since the end of World War II, years which have witnessed
extraordinary changes both in Europe and the world it once dominated.
2. Read three (3) of the following stories from Worlds of Fiction:
* Isaac Babel, “My First Goose”
* Heinrich Böll, “The Laugher”
* Joseph Conrad, “Amy Foster”
* Franz Kafka, “A Report to the Academy”
* Ben Okri, “In the Shadow of War
3. “The Value of Holocaust Poetry in Education.” Teaching the Legacy 2006: n. pg. Web. 03 Sep 2009. .
This article explores how poetry can be used by educators to teach and commemorate the Holocaust.

Recommended Readings

1. Inge, M. T. (2004). What are the Comics?. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 84(3), 11- 14. Although few have recognized the cultural and literary values of comic strips the author argues that the time has come to acknowledge them as a significant part of America’s cultural heritage to be cherished for their enduring artistic, literary and historical importance.


1. Watch the video entitled Andrew Motion on War Poets located at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3Z_AxtDvDM
. Poet Laureate Andrew Motion talks about being a war poet without a war, measuring himself up against his father’s bravery in WWII and the poetry in the end of a line.

Discussion 4.1
The period between World War I and World War II had devastating consequences. The Treaty of Versailles, which you read about in Chapter 33 of The Heritage of World Civilizations, impacted the German economy. The costs of fighting World War I led to revolution in Russia. In the years following the end of World War I, fascism and communism rose to prominence, and many thinkers began to question man’s faith in the idea of progress. Poets, writers, and artists began to doubt that human beings can find a way to live together and build a better future. Based upon your text and your own research answer the following question in a 250-300 word post. What impact did the Versailles Treaty have on World War II? Did World War II seem inevitable, as some historians have argued? Why?

Discussion 4.2
Utilizing the stories you read for this week, what extent does the literature of the period focus on the individual and his or her attempts to function in a world turned upside down? You can explore this from several different angles by asking a variety of questions. How do we make sense of the world when we see problems everywhere? How much control do we have over our lives? How do we find meaning when our belief system comes under attack? Construct a 250-300 word post.

Read the following sections from The Heritage of World Civilizations:

* Chapter 33, “East Asia: The Recent Decades”
* Chapter 34, “Post Colonialism and Beyond”

Discussion 5.1
In 250-300 words explain your answers to the following questions. What impact has the Muslim resurgence had on world history? Why has the West been unable to cope with this development in a realistic manner? How has it impacted current military interventions by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Discussion 5.2
You were to choose between two blocks of readings for this week. The stories within each block share many themes, even though the cultures described may be very different. In what ways are the stories similar, and in what ways are they different? How significant are the similarities? How significant are the differences? What can the stories tell us of the culture upon which the story focuses? Answer these questions in a 250-300 word post.

Block One, Sacrifice and Femininity:
• Ama Ata Aidoo, “Two Sisters”
• Dino Buzzati, “The Falling Girl”
• Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”
• Svava Jakobsdottir, “A Story for Children”

Block Two, Social Change and Identity:
• Bharati Mukherjee, “A Father”
• Rene Marques, “Island of Manhattan”
• Doris Lessing, “The Old Chief Mshlanga”
• Katherine Min, “The One Who Goes Farthest Away”

There are faxes for this order.

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