War Literature: Overview

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It’s hard to teach the literature of war, but it’s not due to a scarcity of resources.  There are so many.  So, very, very many.  Ultimately that’s part of the problem.  Teaching about war means making choices, and often I worry that those choices diminish the purpose of these texts.  It can be difficult to engage students in war texts without turning them into caricatures or a series of “cute” activities.

And while teaching The Things They Carried is never difficult in terms of getting students to read, I worry that they don’t always fully engage in the more difficult aspects of truth, memory, and storytelling.

The act of discussing war can be difficult, too.  Do we teach background and time period?  Writing style? Character development?  The vocabulary of war?  How do we handle the violence of war juxtaposed with your audience of teens?

One of the ways to assuage these doubts is to offer students a range of “texts” that engage their interest in both the story and reality of war.  Images, political cartoons, videos, and editorials are a great place to start.  This week whether you teach Catch 22, The Red Badge of Courage, or All Quiet on the Western Front we’ll offer you resources that allow you to enrich the classroom teaching you already do.

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