War & Society in US Culture

This course examines the relationship among war, the military, and U.S. culture. We will focus less on how the military has been used in particular instances or on the history of particular wars and instead ask broader questions that emerge from understanding the military as a critical cultural institution. Among them will be: What should the relationship between the military and the nation be during times of war and peace? How have Americans, including service members and veterans, sought to define the military’s place in American culture? How have wars and militarism created spaces for debating larger questions about national identity, race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship?

Among the topics we will consider are the relationship among military service, citizenship, and civil rights; debates about the citizen’s obligations during wartime; military recruiting, the draft, and the transition to an all-volunteer force; debates about the appropriate roles of women and gay and lesbian service members; and veterans’ issues.