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Stories about the lives we've made

module:War, literature and technology


Literature of war frontis

This tutorial looks at the way in which war and its associated technology has been reported and represented by writers over time. From Agincourt, as Shakespeare imagined it, to the brutal industrialisation of combat evoked in the poetry of the First World War, this unit charts the way that writers have responded to the horrors of war.

World War I recruiting poster, c.1914-1918. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

If we pause to think of the billions pumped into devising and stopping weapons of mass destruction we realise that this is a theme of particular relevance today. War writing conveys extreme experiences, times that have been cast into the very fabric of our history.

Whilst war was once the stuff of legend and heroic stories that thrilled generations of children, the wholesale massacres of the twentieth century have changed the way we think about war. Through this unit we will explore many different perspectives from very different writers. The activities you will undertake provoke important questions and develop your critical thinking about this all too tragically human subject.

Beginning with an overview of war writing through the centuries, the module later focuses on two important poets of the First World War: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. It then moves to the Home Front to look at the experiences of those left behind in that war before travelling back in time to study Shakespeare’s Henry V in full rhetorical flow.

During your study you will respond to poetry, examine a classic poem, discuss some First World War journalism and develop the ability to write a classic speech of your own, taking your cue from a king!

Resource Descriptions

World War I recruiting poster, c.1914-1918.