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Literature of War Journalism




Admission Requirements

Similarly-tagged 100/200-level course or permission from the instructor.


This reading-intensive course seeks to give students an understanding of how war and the journalistic coverage of wars has changed and developed during the 19th and 20th centuries. Six wars in particular will be studied – the Crimean War of 1853-56; the First World War of 1914-18; the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39; the Second World War of 1939-45; the Vietnam War of 1955-75; and the War in Bosnia of 1992-95. Whilst there will be lectures dealing with the causes and development of each war the focus will be on the journalism.

Course Objectives

  • To give a clear insight into how war (also as a political choice) has changed over the past 150 years

  • To give an understanding of what war journalism entails and of what it can achieve – both positive and negative

  • To give an understanding of the different techniques of reporting, interviewing and writing that journalists have used and developed over the past 150 years

Mode of Instruction

Apart from during the first week, when there will be two lectures, classes will be split between lectures (every Thursday) and student-led discussions (every Monday). There are books linked to every lecture and discussion, and every week students will be expected to write a short (600-800 words), personal reflection both on the war covered during that week and on the readings that went with it. Students will be graded both on the quality of their essays (including their command of English), their presentations and leading of class discussions and on their participation in class discussions. I will be available every week for individual meetings with students and will try to arrange to show at least one film during an evening.


Assessment: In-class participation, leading class discussion
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1-7

Assessment: Weekly essay (600 words)
Percentage: 10% each
Deadline: Weeks 2-7

Assessment: Final essay (1000 words)
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Week 8


The First Casualty – Philip Knightley (general overview of war journalism)
The Invention of Peace – Michael Howard (general reflection of war from a western perspective)
The Face of War – Martha Gellhorn (articles 1930s to 1960s)
Special Correspondent of the Times – William Howard Russell (Crimean War)
Storm of Steel – Ernst Junger (First World War)
Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell (Spanish Civil War)
A Writer at War – Vasily Grossman (Second World War)
Slightly out of Focus – Robert Capa (Second World War)
If This Is a Man – Primo Levi (Holocaust)
Dispatches – Michael Herr (Vietnam)
My War Gone By, I Miss It So – Anthony Loyd (Bosnian War)

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introductory lecture + lecture on Crimean War
Week 2: Discussion on Crimean War + lecture on First World War
Week 3: Discussion on First World War + lecture on Spanish Civil War
Week 4: Discussion on Spanish Civil War + lecture on Second World War
Week 5: Discussion on Second World War + lecture on Vietnam
Week 6: Discussion on Vietnam + lecture on Bosnia
Week 7: Discusion on Bosnia + lecture on Holocaust

Preparation for first session

All students should have read The Invention of Peace by Michael Howard.