Professor H. Bruce Franklin Office: Hill 515; 973-353-5444. E-mail: email@example.com
Office Hours: MON: 1:00-2:00; WED: 2:30-3:30; and by appointment.
Home page: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~hbf
Ms. Elizabeth Aaron. Office: Conklin 326. Hours: MW, 11:30-12:50. 973-868-5490.
This is a 300 level interdisciplinary course, designed for students interested in American literature and history. No prior knowledge of the history of the Vietnam war is expected but every student will be expected to learn much of that history. The course entails a lot of reading and is intended to be challenging and provocative. If you are mainly looking for an easy way to satisfy a general education requirement, please take a different course.
Vietnam and America, edited by Marvin Gettleman, Jane Franklin, Marilyn Young, and H. Bruce Franklin. Grove Press, 1995. (Abbreviated as V&A.) Note: Do not use any earlier edition of this book because it will not contain all the assigned material.
Graham Greene, The Quiet American. Penguin paperback.
W. D. Ehrhart, Passing Time.
Alfredo Véa, Gods Go Begging. Plume, Penguin paperback.
Tim O'Brien, In the
(Any edition of these books by Greene, Ehrhart, and O'Brien is o.k., but page references in class discussion will be to these particular editions.)
The Vietnam War in American Stories, Songs, and Poems, edited by H. Bruce Franklin.
Reading assignments must be completed by the following dates:
Springsteen, "Born in the
January 28 In V&A: pp. xiii‑xv; 3-8; 15-22; 24-28; 31-40; 46-48. Here’s a key question to ask as you read these and later documents: Was Vietnam one country or two?
January 30 Video: "The Roots of a War" (shown in class).
February 4 Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1955).
February 6 V&A: pp. 50-52; 65-76 (Did these
February 11 See the 2002 movie The Quiet American. Be sure, if possible, to see the movie after, not before, reading the novel. [If you have the time and a high tolerance for lousy movies, you might sometime also want to see the 1958 movie The Quiet American (which streams on Netflix); the plot, which was written with suggestions from Colonel Edward Lansdale, turns Fowler into the villain of the story and ends up being a message of support for Ngo Dinh Diem and deeper U.S. commitment.]
February 13 V&A:
pp. 113-114; 133-135; 156-160; 165-192.
What does Eisenhower’s 1954 letter reveal about the one country/two
countries question? What does the
founding program of the National Liberation Front reveal about this
question? Compare Nguyen Thi Dinh’s “No Other Road to
Take” (pp. 165-188) with Edward Lansdale’s report (pp. 82-92) as
autobiographical writing and as visions of the reality of
February 18 V&A: pp. 193-201; 205-215; 225;
227-228; 239-254. What is revealed in the startling first paragraph of Lodge’s
cablegram on p. 227? What do we learn
from the top-secret documents on pp. 242-254?
How can we compare the assumptions of those documents with the theory of
“People’s War” laid out by Vo Nguyen Giap (pp.
194-201)? A great topic for an essay
would be a comparison of David Marr’s autobiographical piece (pp. 205-215) with
Nguyen Thi Dinh’s “No Other
Road to Take” (pp. 165-188) and Edward Lansdale’s report (pp. 82-92) as both
autobiographical writing and as visions of the reality of
February 20 In ASSP: Introduction to Poems; Larry Rottmann, "For Cissy Shellabarger, R.N. Wherever You Are"; poems by Sharon Grant; Penny Kettlewell; Basil T. Paquet; W. D. Ehrhart, “Guerrilla War”; Marilyn M. McMahon, “In This Land,” “Wounds of War,” “Confession”; (Poetry assignments in ASSP refer to all the poems by the designated author unless specific poems are listed.)
February 25 In ASSP: INTRODUCTION; FICTION; Inside the War; Michael Paul McCusker, "The Old Man"; Larry Rottmann, "Thi Bong Dzu"; David Huddle, "The Interrogation of the Prisoner Bung by Mister Hawkins and Sergeant Tree"; Tim O'Brien, "The Man I Killed."
February 27 In ASSP: poems by Jan Barry; Richard M. Mishler; Stan Platke; Yusef Komunyakaa; Frank A. Cross, Jr.; Larry Rottmann, "APO 96225" and "What Kind of War?"
March 4 V&A: "The Movement Against the War" (pp. 295‑335). In ASSP: poems by June Jordan; Pedro Pietri; Luis Omar Salinas; Horace Coleman, "OK Corral East/Brothers in the Nam"; Denise Levertov, “A Poem at Christmas, 1972, during the Terror-Bombing of North Vietnam”; Wayne Karlin, "Moratorium." Short documentary: "Only the Beginning" (shown in class.) The audio of Dr. King’s speech is available at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm
March 6 In ASSP: Ward Just, "The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert"; Mary Hazzard, from Idle and Disorderly Persons.
March 11 V&A: "The Decisive Year,
1968": pp. 339‑343; 356-360; 364-365; 378-379; 401-409; "What
March 13 In ASSP: The Vietnam War and American Science Fiction; Kate Wilhelm, "The Village"; Steve Hassett, “And What Would You Do, Ma?”
March 25 Tim
O'Brien, In the
March 27 In ASSP: Songs (pp. 203-218). Please bring In the Lake of the Woods to class.
V&A: pp. 427-437;
455-479. Compare the NLF's
Ten Points and the
April 1 & April 3 Movie: Hearts and Minds (1974). (Please note that between March 25 and April 8, there are only 52 pages of reading due except for Passing Time. This schedule is designed to allow time to read Ehrhart’s book.)
April 8 W. D. Ehrhart, Passing Time (1986).
April 10 In ASSP: Aftermaths (introduction); Stephanie Vaughn, "Kid MacArthur"; W. D. Ehrhart, “Making the Children Behave,” “To Those Who Have Gone Home Tired,” “The Invasion of Grenada,” “For Mrs. Na,” “Guns.”
April 15 In ASSP: Lewis Shiner, "The War at Home"; poems by Joan A. Furey; Linda Van Devanter; Bruce Weigl, “Burning Shit at An Khe,” “Song of Napalm,” “Dialectical Materialism”: Marilyn M. McMahon, “Knowing”; John Balaban, “After Our War,” “Along the Mekong,” “In Celebration of Spring.”
April 17 Part of this class will be devoted to providing guidance on your writing project.
April 22 Alfredo Véa, Gods Go Begging (1999). (This is another challenging novel. Please budget enough time to read it thoughtfully. Note that between April 8 and April 22, there are only 43 pages of reading due except for Gods Go Begging.)
April 24 By this time, your essay or story should be well under way. Part of the class this day will be devoted to providing help on your writing project.
April 29 V&A: pp. 487-488; “Missing in Action in the 21st Century” (essay to be posted via Blackboard); In ASSP: Larry Rottmann, "The Bones of an American M.I.A. Speak to the Members of the Joint Casualty Resolution Team"; Dale Ritterbusch, "At the Crash Site of a B-52: January 1994."
May 1 V&A: pp. 489-494; 515-522. [On page 520, eight lines from bottom, please make the following correction: Change “January 16, 1961” to January 16, 1991. This is crucially important because it marks the beginning of the Iraq War.] Relate these readings to our present situation.
May 6 Final day for submission of original essay or short story (minimum length 2,500 words). Do not leave the writing or typing of this project for the last minute. The hard copy is due in class. You must also submit a digitized copy (by e-mail or otherwise), within 24 hours of this class meeting. This class will provide important review and preparation for the final examination.
May 13 The final examination will take place from 9:30 to 11:30 AM in the same room as the regular class meetings.
There will be several brief tests on the reading, given without prior announcement. Students are responsible for keeping up with the reading schedule. Missed tests will count as zero unless the absence is excused; please submit written requests for excused absences. There will be a final examination but no mid‑term.
In determining the grade for the course, approximately equal weight will be given to (1) the brief tests, (2) the short story or essay, and (3) the final examination. In addition, each student's work will be evaluated on overall performance, with attention given to attendance, participation in discussion, and the level of knowledge and understanding ultimately reached.
Instructions for Writing Project
The essay or short story you are writing
for this course is an opportunity for an original, valuable achievement. Think of it as something you are preparing
for publication. That is, you are
addressing an audience of reasonably intelligent strangers whom you must entice
to read your work and who will have a valuable experience reading it. Most questions about form and content can be
answered easily if you put yourself in your readers' shoes. The essay or story should contribute to your
readers' understanding of some aspect of the subject matter of the course. Learning about Vietnam War while living amid
the wars in
If you choose to write an essay, please avoid the boring "term paper" mode and do not just regurgitate what's already available in books, magazines, or web sites. Many of the most interesting essays done in previous years were personal essays, based on the authors' own experience‑-sometimes quite disturbing‑-as they encountered facts and ideas presented in the course. Doing interviews or a survey can also provide valuable material for an essay. Or you might explore some area in which you already have some expertise (such as music, movies, a particular TV show, etc.). Or you could use your internet skills to explore how some aspect of the Vietnam War is projected on YouTube videos or discussed in the blogosphere.
If you choose to write a story, this should also be based on your own research, knowledge, and experience. Some of the finest stories done in previous years used a point-of-view character quite similar to the author. Study the techniques and methods used in short stories that you find effective. Remember that you need to develop believable characters and scenes in order to get your readers to experience your fictional world. Short stories usually consist of very few scenes, sometimes only one, developed in detail.
The minimum length is 2,500 words. If you are having difficulty reaching this length, you can be sure there is some problem in your conception and development of your essay or story.
On proper use and acknowledgement of
sources, be sure you have a copy of the
The physical appearance of your work should be attractive and professional looking. It should be double-spaced throughout. The print should be very black (not faded) and pleasant to read. There is no adequate excuse for frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. So allow yourself ample time for proofreading. Late papers will be penalized unless there is a medical or other emergency. Be sure to back up your work and keep a copy of your paper when you turn it in.