This post shows an IB Lang/Literature Unit focusing on ‘The Experience of the Combatant for an IB Lang/Lit course I took in 2019.

Gallery Curation Gregory Anderson – The Experience of the Combatant

What is the purpose of this gallery?

My gallery depicts how the experience of the combatant in war has been presented in different times and places. It has a distinctly Western emphasis, something I would welcome comment and critique to change.  Essentially it aims to present depictions of war as culturally specific and ultimately contested.

It is interesting seeing how different mediums are used to promote ideas of patriotism or otherwise. The approach the teaching would need to focus on ideas developed in local and global contexts. How do texts reflect, represent or form a part of cultural practices? These cultural practices aim to inform our understanding of possible dominant, or at least influential, attitudes.

The gallery does not move from a simple ‘patriotic to otherwise’, but rather tracks subversion of the experience of the (Western) combatant as a patriotic hero. I think this would be improved by tracking comparative views. Does anyone know of a book by an American veteran from the Vietnam conflict whereby he talks about the soul/spirit of the warrior? About how it is difficult for soldiers to return to civilian life after experiences of being involved in life and death? I think it contrasts American Sniper very well in terms of showing how reflectiveness can devastate the combatant.

Further Thoughts coming back to this

The theme of war is common to so many texts that it will be a great way of building up the treasury of texts for the Oral. “Macbeth”, “Julius Caesar”, Sophocles’ “Antigone”, “Persepolis”, “All My Sons”, Wilfred Owen poems, photographs from war-torn zones, Picasso’s “Guernica”, war posters, Megadeth, Metallica songs… the possibilities are endless.

Perhaps there worry that this curation, “has a distinctly Western emphasis” is needless;  the language about the experience of war, war propaganda, narrative of nationalism, and the varying attitudes to the same are universal.

While I still don’t remember the title of the “book by an American veteran from the Vietnam conflict whereby he talks about the soul/spirit of the warrior”. Tangentially, “Forrest Gump”, based on Winston’s novel, touches on the Vietnam War. Also maybe anything written by Senator John Mcain. But “Miss Saigon” is rich in war propaganda that supports the US government’s position on Vietnam. Director Oliver Stone was also a Vietnam War veteran though I am not sure if any of his movies was based on the Vietnam War.