ENGL 047B. Alternate War Histories of Asia/America

In what ways do cultural disparities and conflictual historical experiences lead to not only different perceptions of reality but in fact multiple realities? Anchored in two wars-World War II, from which the US emerged as a world power, and the Vietnam War, the first televised war and America's "unwinnable war"-this course focuses on Asian/American entanglement and the worlds to which it gives rise. There are multiple Japans that emerged in World War II: the empire that might have conquered the US, as imagined in the alternate history of The Man in the High Castle; the lost land of origin that has brought trauma on its "heirs," the Japanese interned by the US; the Japan experienced by comfort women in Asia. Similarly, the story of the Vietnam War has been told almost exclusively from an American viewpoint. Yet The Sympathizer promises to tell another story: not only of the US in Vietnam as seen by the Vietnamese but of the Vietnamese in America, indeed of two Vietnams. What might we learn from alternate (hi)stories about the political functions and ontological power of narrative? Texts may include The Man in the High CastleNo-No BoyComfort WomanThe World at WarCold WarApocalypse Now, Vietnam War protest poetry, The SympathizerNight Sky with Exit WoundsWe Should Never Meet, Forgetting VietnamMaya Lin, and the Vietnamese Oral History Project, along with theoretical texts on war and reality. Students will be evaluated based on class participation and presentations, written responses, (con)textual analysis, and comparative analysis.
20th/21st c.
1 credit.
Eligible for ASIA, GLBL-paired, PEAC.
Fall 2021. Ku.
Catalog chapter: English Literature  
Department website: https://www.swarthmore.edu/english-literature

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