2015 - Fall

Cataclysm and Commitment

Course Number: JOUR-GA 1281.001

Day & Time: Wednesday, 6:00pm-9:00pm

Location: 7th Floor Library

Instructor: Susie Linfield

In this seminar, we will read books by American journalists that chronicle cataclysms abroad from World War II to the present day. We will read about American wars and about foreign wars, about repression abroad and poverty abroad, about the fall of the Soviet Union and about the rise of Islamic terrorism. We will return to certain themes throughout the semester. Some emerge from the events themselves: the tension between universal ideals and national sovereignty, the responsibility of the powerful toward the powerless, the scope of moral agency in extremis. Others are specific to the work of American correspondents. What does it mean to be an American reporter in the context of these events, and how has each writer capitalized on or compensated for the limitations and the privileges of this position? How might the work have challenged or contributed to American self-perception? How does the writer come to know and invest in his or her foreign subject?