Participating Faculty: Terry Nardin and Jane Nardin
Project Duration: Thursday, 27 September to Saturday, 6 October
This course will look at different representations of the war in Vietnam: “the Vietnam War,” as Americans call it, or “the American War,” as it is called in Vietnam.
We will start the course in Singapore. Before leaving for Vietnam, we will read a short “neutral” essay about the history of the war. This includes some background on French Indochina and American involvement in the context of anticommunism and the Cold War, explaining the partition of Vietnam in North and South and American support for South Vietnam. We will also watch two commercial films about the combat experience, one Vietnamese and one American.
Next, we will travel to Hanoi and then Ho Chi Minh City to visit public museums and other curated sites that memorialize the war. And as a point of comparison, we will read about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC – the most prominent, and contested, American site commemorating the war. We may also meet with some Vietnamese teachers, students, and artists, as well as with an American diplomat. While in Vietnam, we will have seminars on three aspects of the war. First, we will discuss representations of the war in Vietnamese and American film and literature. Second, we will consider how American military involvement in Vietnam as well as the aims and conduct of the Vietnamese might be judged according to just war principles. Third, we will consider the questions: Who won the war? How did the war change Vietnam?
Finally, we will return to Singapore, where the class will split into three groups. Each group will prepare a poster on an aspect of the course: literary and artistic representations of the war, representations in public memorials, and the justice of the war on various sides. The class will also prepare its presentation for the symposium.