Going To War: Anglo-American Approaches To Violence and Trauma

Johannes Shephard, Sophia Mizouni, Norwich University 158 Harmon Drive, Northfield, VT 05663 USA

In 20th century American literature there is a clear physical and emotional distancing from state sanctioned violence and this is most clearly expressed through the phrase: “to go to war”. This cultural view is rooted in the idea that to conduct warfare there is a necessity to leave home and actively engage in a conflict in a foreign land. In comparison, the European general perspective  of war is much more personal and exists in the same space in which civil life inhabits. In French for example, one does not go to war but one has war. This idea is explored in two novels written in the 1960’s that depict the end of World War II. Paris is Burning by French writer Dominique La Pierre focuses on the experience of french citizens in occupied France while The Longest Day by American author Cornelius Ryan narrates the Normandy landings of 1944 and is more focused on the experiences of soldiers.These novels are explored alongside the critical writings of Jean Paul Sartre, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida whose texts on linguistic and cultural constructs of languages bring to light the contrast in perspective on warfare in both novels.This research also examines the cinematographic adaptations of these novels in order to expose the iconography of each book and further reflect on the linguistic and symbolic importance of the worldview that is expressed in this idea of going to war. This research concludes by showing how a war at home informs societal norms around violence and how expeditionary warfare creates a different set of norms. I anticipate that the fundamental difference between these norms is rooted in a lived experience of violence and war as opposed to a second hand experience only understood through the lives of the soldiers who engaged in this expeditionary warfare. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Johannes Shephard

Institution: Norwich University

Type: Oral

Subject: English & Literature

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Oral 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 825
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