CLS 93 — World War II Now: Poetry, Dreams, Art
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Oct 29
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Sep 26
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Instructor(s): Alexander Nemerov
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Sep 24—Oct 29
No letter grade
With the disappearance of the “Greatest Generation,” World War II is fading even more starkly from the American imagination. What were the war years like in the United States? How did Americans portray the global crisis in photographs, movies, and poetry—and what do all those representations look like now, when our historical distance gives us a unique perspective on those years? Starting with Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photograph of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square on V-J Day, the course will work backward in time to December 7, 1941, the date of Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the war. We will look closely at the work of famous wartime movie stars such as Judy Garland and Olivia de Havilland, the photographs of Margaret Bourke-White, Lee Miller, and Joe Rosenthal, the eerie films of Val Lewton, the paintings of Norman Rockwell, the fiction of Chester Himes, and the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks and Robert Frost. We will also consider the sites of World War II as places of haunting power—notably, the location of the Port Chicago explosion that took place in the East Bay in July 1944. Students will come away from this course with a fresh perspective on the overly familiar and the little known, on the grand statement and the whispered word—on, above all, a quest to examine what it means to encounter the past in meaningful terms.
Alexander Nemerov, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities, StanfordAlexander Nemerov is chair of the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford, and has been voted one of the university’s top ten professors by The Stanford Daily. In 2017, he presented the Sixty-Sixth A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts at the National Gallery of Art. His most recent books are Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus & Howard Nemerov, Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s, and Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine. Nemerov received a PhD from Yale.
Textbooks for this course:
(Recommended) Alexander Nemerov, Summoning Pearl Harbor (ISBN 9781941701652)