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World War II Fiction and Memoir

ENG 317/318

World War II Fiction and Memoir

Description and Objectives

The World War II Fiction and Memoir course casts a lens on WWII, a fascinating flashpoint in 20th century world history.  In doing so, students will grow in knowledge, perspective, empathy, compassion, and appreciation for those who fought on the battlefront, as well as those non-combatants who fought and endured behind the combat zone.  These narratives (both fiction and first-hand memoirs) illustrate some of the most heroic and noble examples of human virtue, while also portraying some of the most depraved and evil examples of human vice.

This course will features two lyrical, yet riveting WW II novels, as well as several gripping, eyewitness memoirs from those who fought in and survived World War II.  These books will allow the student to grow in his appreciation of what many have described as the “Greatest Generation” of Americans, the brave men and women came of age during the Great Depression and later answered the call to fight not for fame, but because it was the right thing to do.



  • With the Old Breed, by E. B. Sledge
  • A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-40, by Iris Origo
  • War in Val D’Orica: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944, by Iris Origo
  • All the Light we, Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
  • Peace, by Richard Bausch

Course Requirements

Students can expect to be quizzed at least once weekly on the assigned reading material.  Quarterly, students can expect several in-class writing assignments as well as a couple of formal, typed compositions.  There will be either a cumulative midterm examination (fall), or well as a final exam (spring) for the course material.  All homework is due at the beginning of class.  Late work will be penalized one letter grade down for each day that the assignment is late.

Successful Students

Students are encouraged to read and take active reading or marginal notes in his text so that pertinent passages or puzzling lines can be marked for discussion in class.

With World War II as a backdrop to this study of human nature and the horrors of war, students are expected to strive in their ability to think critically and mature in their ability to write with personal reflection.