View Full Version : Who wants to help with my research paper?
04-01-2005, 12:57 AM
I know this probably doesn't belong here but I thouht it was worth a shot. I have to write a research paper for my English class. I was wondering if maybe some of you fellas could give your opinion. My paper is on how literature has affected warfare thoughout history. So far I've got Homer and his influence in making the infantrymen the honorable and dominating force in early Greek armies. Any thoughts? Any help would be greatly appreciated and I would be more than happy to cite Fanaticus as a source.
04-01-2005, 01:58 AM
Good luck. I'd find a good library before citing Fanaticus as a source.
As smart as my fellow DBAers are we aren't what you want for your paper.
I don't think Homer made infantrymen the dominating force in Ancient Greece, by the way.
04-01-2005, 02:13 AM
Homer did influence, but was not the main reason the infantryman was dominant in Classical Greece. For that check out a book called "The Western Way of War" By David Hansen. Homer did have an impact in the western mindset concerning the definitions of Hero's and the the like, and most certainly influenced Alexander the Great for one. Other books to check out, most certainly Sun Tzu's "Art of War" has influenced the Eastern way of thinking for centuries and more recently the western, The Bible of course has influenced military men Stonewall Jackson always carried his bible and Napoleon's book on tactics (that was it). There are of course numerous other examples, but I hope this gives you a start.
04-01-2005, 02:17 AM
Sun Tzu isn't generally considered literature -- at least not in the English teacher sense of the word.
Originally posted by philistinejim:
For that check out a book called "The Western Way of War" By David Hansen.For the record, that would be Victor Davis Hanson. Definitely an author worth looking at in this context (but only if you get the name right smile.gif ).
04-01-2005, 02:47 AM
For the record, that would be Victor Davis Hanson. Definitely an author worth looking at in this context (but only if you get the name right ).
Thanks for correcting me. redface.gif I loaned my copy out to a friend last week and my memory is not that great when it comes to authors names.
It is a great book though.
04-01-2005, 03:02 AM
Originally posted by John Meunier:
Sun Tzu isn't generally considered literature -- at least not in the English teacher sense of the word. My definition of literature is a bit broader than an English teachers then.
What would his Art of War be then?
[ April 01, 2005, 00:12: Message edited by: philistinejim ]
04-01-2005, 03:13 AM
Originally posted by <student>:
My paper is on how literature has affected warfare thoughout history.The cultural ideal of the Perfect Knight was a strong force in Medieval behavior and led a whole bunch of Knights into really stupid behavior that led to major defeats (most famously the French at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt during the Hundred Years War). It is a little hard to say whether the expression of this ideal in literature (the Chanson du Roland, for example; or Malory's Mort D'Arthur, or many other sources between) is the cause of this behavior or if the cultural archetype is the cause and the body of literature is, like the behavior of the "Chivalric" (i.e. stupid and too-proud) French Knights are merely both reflections of this cultural archetype.
Nonetheless, I would recommend to you Macchiavelli's "The Prince" (where among other things he recommends a number of military reforms to the Condotta system which was failing at the time he wrote the book), and Malory's Mort D'Arthur, and the Chanson du Roland. Those are all primary sources; I'm sure you can find some secondary source discussing the interrelation of those books with the military elite of their period (since these books were all expressions of the cultural ideals the military elite accepted, even though they never seemed to behave according to the ideal).
04-01-2005, 03:27 AM
Many students create "paper" topics for themselves that are much too broad for a what is really a short essay.
"how literature has affected warfare thoughout history."
Is a topic for a large book, not a short English class essay. I suggest you hone your topic to something very much smaller.
"The effects of the writing of (enter name) on the campaigns of (enter name)"
Even that is too much
How about "The Influence of Les Misarables on the thinking of Soldiers in the American Civil War"
Many soldiers carried this book and it was read around campfires.
I like the original Homer reference. "The Influence of Homer on the Military Thinking of Alexander the Great"
Cyrus the Ringmaster
04-01-2005, 05:17 AM
I don't know if this is the angle you want for your essay, but have a look at Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of Five Rings".
04-01-2005, 10:54 AM
I think Bob's comments are especially appropriate. Try to narrow down your topic to something manageable. You mention "research paper" so one must ask how much/detailed the research is and how long the paper is. Do you have to use footnotes/endnotes and cite scholarly works? Or are references more like
"Wilfred Owen's World War I poetry reflected the absurdity and horror of the war."
by the way, here's a quick link to an Owen site:
If you are interested in ancient literature, Musashi's Five Rings are good. Or R. Sawyers Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, which has an extensive commentary on Chinese literary style related to war. V.D.Hanson has already been mentioned--he has some interesting quotes of portrayals of war from both historical (thucycidides) and literary writing (Greek plays). John Lynn's Battle: A History of Combat and Culture doesn't limit itself to literature, but the theme of the book is how different cultures developed a discussion of how war should be fought that was sometimes an accuate portrayal, sometimes an idealized portrayal (D Kujit's reference to knights and chivalry is a great illustration here), and sometimes an scummy ruleless enterprise. You can contrast contrast chivalric tournaments with field battles and with chevauchees in the medieval period to get a sense of all three types of discussions.
For the modern (20th century) period, you can read Peter Kindsvatter's American Soldiers: Ground Combat in the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam. Aside from being a great discusssion of the experiences of draft era soldiers in war, the book contents that motion pictures during this era heroized and memorialized combat, giving prospective soldiers wrongheaded views of what combat is really like. The author also contends a selected reading of literature (war memoirs and accounts from war correspondents) would benefit the nation's soldiers by giving them a more realistic view of what combat is like.
You could use this last book and say that WWII and Korea era movies (pick a few and watch them) caused Vietnam era draftees to have a rosy colored glasses view of the glory and heroism of combat which heightened their discontent when they experienced the reality of combat in Vietnam. That is a debatable thesis, but it would be entertaining and perhaps pander a bit to the left leaning tendencies of the majority of academic university faculty.
04-01-2005, 02:11 PM
Originally posted by jldiii:
That is a debatable thesis, but it would be entertaining and perhaps pander a bit to the left leaning tendencies of the majority of academic university faculty. Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!
You could compare and contrast with the WWII writings of Ernie Pyle
04-01-2005, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by Pthomas:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by jldiii:
That is a debatable thesis, but it would be entertaining and perhaps pander a bit to the left leaning tendencies of the majority of academic university faculty. Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! </font>[/QUOTE]I could have gone all out and just quoted the American Enterprise Study or any one of the more partisan discussions from either the left or the right:
but I figured it's enough to note that our good student researcher (who knows better than us what his faculty is like) might consider his target audience as he writes his paper.
You could compare and contrast with the WWII writings of Ernie Pyle And that's another good option.
Now off topic, but of interest to Pthomas since you are in the Columbus area also, is this article from Kenyon College about alleged bias and some proposed Ohio state laws:
Of course, any supposed bias doesn't keep me from asking my ancient history professor whether the Carthaginian armies ever used pikes in their armies, or what nations besides the Romans actually used a fortified camp, or what is the length of a pilum in the late republican period (he laughs at that one), or whether the Samnite legion was actually the forerunner of the Roman manipular legion, or whether allied cohort organization contributed to the transition from manipular to cohortal legions, and so on. Each time I'm sent off to the sources to look myself. Good faculty don't tell you what they think, they get you to think for yourself...
04-01-2005, 05:08 PM
Thanks alot everyone for all your ideas. I forgot all about Machiavelli. This is supposed to be a relatively small research paper, about 20 pages or so. I just needed some ideas to get me pointed in the right direction. I realized that literature and ancient warfare is a broad topic. What I really wanted was some sources that could at least get me started and you all provided me that so thank you. Aside from that I really don't consider Sun Tzu's Art of War literature. It seems far too short and is more a list of suggestions and general rules. I thought Homer's Illiad played a very big role inmaking the infantry dominant in ancient Greece. Thanks again though!
04-01-2005, 08:33 PM
At first blush, the subject struck me as rather overly broad, but then I thought of two completely unrelated anecdotes that might provide either some more fodder for your paper. Or maybe a couple of footnotes.
While Sun Zi might not be considered literature, there are related fictional works. Soviet advisors to Mao Zedong in the thirties complained that he was basing his strategies less on military theory and more on the martial arts classic Warriors of the Marsh.
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain makes a partly tongue-in-cheek argument that Americans were willing to fight the Civil War only because the popularity of Sir Walter Scott's novels had glorified warfare.
04-02-2005, 06:33 PM
Here is my two cents. One of my absolute favorite books is "All Quiet on the Western Front". Ther are a few examples when the main character goes home to visit his old stomping grounds and school while on leave. There he is reminded of the glories of war and chivalric notion that do not exist in real combat. There might be some quotes or references to historical people and books in those visits.
One could use Sheakespeare as litature that affects a common persons (or aristoctratic) view on warfare. Chivalric ideals stemmed from the Middle ages are resonated from his "histories". Henry V's "Band of Brothers" speech echos this sentiment. This epitaph can be found at the Westminster in London for the dedication for RAF airmen (I think it was that branch) who died in WWII. Granted they are far removed from the actual horors of war, but one doesn't realize that until they become directly affected (either as a vetran of a war or as a civilian where the fighting is taking place). Sheakespeare's veiws are carried all the way through the Victorian era. It wasn't until photography could really change these preceptions, since visual information could be brought to people who were not pesent at the fighting (including future generations).
Lastly, military cemetaries may be a good place to look for quotes by authors and poets on gravestones. These could not only reflect the personal view of the soldier, but those of his comrades and the period as well.
I might have lead you off track, but these ideas could be useful.
vBulletin® v3.8.6, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.