Still We Hear the Guns
We are living ten decades since the end of World War One and nearly 75 years after World War Two. And yet these conflicts still carry immediate claims over us today. How and why this is so will be at the heart of our class’ learning journey each day this summer. As we use the historic core of London and Paris as our classroom, exploring a mosaic of secret gardens, hidden memorials, battered stone walls and hushed courtyards. To know what it felt like when a generation of young soldiers marched to war in the throes of a passion that was called “the spirit of 1914.” And what it was like for their families at home, when so many veterans came back unable to live lives that struck anyone as “normal.” Finally, we’ll explore the tragic confluence of irony and history that made the battered generation of World War One go on to become the parents whose own children would board the trains and ships and aircraft in 1939 and 1940. To start it all back up again, and on a scale this time that –God willing–the rest of humanity won’t see surpassed after the end of Generation War.
Still We See the Signs
Our course will fan out each day through the narrow alleys and lost spaces of two cities where war held vast dominion from 1914 through 1940. Some days, our work will feel familiar to history majors, because we’ll teach about the causes of war at the British Library or in the shadows of the Louvre. Other days, you’ll be asked to think like students of Psychology. Because our attention to what Sigmund Freud developed as his modified view of the human psyche will focus first on World War One and then on World War Two, as we teach you at the home he made in London after he was forced to flee the Nazis. While another day’s focus on Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and J.R. Tolkein will feel like the best literature class of a lifetime. What will tie all of this together will be our use of active learning sites to make our material come alive, from the Imperial War Museum to the Bethnel Green Tube Stop to the Shoah Memorial and Paris’ Museum of the Resistance and Liberation.
Our Teachers: The Heroes of Generation War
If you’ll learn many things from the literary, scientific and political members of Generation War, you’ll likely remember more about the several expert “guests” whose lives will be central to how, where and what you learn in our course. These experts won’t have names you’ll have heard of, and yet the stories of their lives will feel eternal when you come to know them as your learning journey in this class sweeps you across London, Paris and all over the hallowed battlefields of northern France. For now we will call them by first names only: Maurice, Edith, John, Ernst, Virginia.