Fall 2018


Remembering the "War to End All Wars": Poetry and Prose from the British Empire (55+)

Remembrance Day 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. In this course we shall remember those from Great Britain and other parts of the former British Empire, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and South Africa, who wrote poetry and prose about this “war to end all wars.”

The works of these authors—who range from the best-known, like Vera Brittain and Wilfred Owen, to the lesser-known ANZAC contributors— reveal a variety of responses as they recollect, chiefly in the relative tranquility of the 1920s and 1930s, their wartime experiences in Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Russia and, particularly for the Australians and New Zealanders, Egypt and Turkey.

Note: This seminar involves group discussion and readings from a course pack.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Weeks 1-2:

After a general introduction, we will discuss some of the best-known English, Irish and Scottish writers who recorded their experiences of the First World War in memoirs, novels, poetry and short stories. Beginning with such authors as Vera Brittain and Wilfred Owen will allow us both to revisit familiar works and to recall notable events, places and themes of these four catastrophic years.

Weeks 3-4:

In these sessions we will concentrate on fiction, letters, memoirs and poetry by men and women from Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa, countries that as part of the British Empire were automatically at war when Great Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914. Studying this less-familiar literature about the First World War will allow us both to read new authors and to assess how inhabitants of places far from the Empire's capital reacted to what they did “For King and Country.”

Weeks 5-6:

The Dominion of Canada, as a member of the British Empire, played a significant role in the First World War. Canadian men and women served in various capacities in Great Britain, Belgium and France; they survived such an event as the Halifax Explosion of 1917; and they created memorable works about these years, including probably the most famous poem about the war, John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.” In these sessions we will read Canadian literature about the First World War and discuss potential similarities and differences in attitudes between the authors from Great Britain and its Empire, and among the authors from various parts of the Empire.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

There is required reading for this course.

  • A course pack of readings will be provided on the first day of class.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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