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  1. Poets such as Wilfrid Owen (NAEL 2.2066–2074), Siegfried Sassoon (NAEL 2.2054–2059), Rupert Brooke (NAEL 2.2049–2050) and Isaac Rosenberg (NAEL 2.2061–2065) are grouped together as "war poets" in many anthologies and critical studies. Other than their common theme, war, and "the pity of war," do they share enough characteristics in terms of style, form, and perspective to be considered a "school" or "movement" in literature?
  2. In what ways does the poetry of World War II (NAEL 2. 2525–2540) differ from that of World War I (NAEL 2.2048–2084)? In each case, does the war poetry introduce formal innovations, or in other ways break from the literary conventions of the time?
  3. In the nineteenth century, the American poet Walt Whitman proclaimed "I sing the body Electric." While some have perceived technology as exciting, new, and liberating, others have seen it as soul-destroying or even potentially apocalyptic. Which of these two perceptions has produced the most exciting and innovative art?
  4. Modernism was the dominant artistic genre in the years following World War I. To what extent can we see the impact of the war and its aftermath in Modernist works such as The Waste Land (NAEL 2.2368–2383) ?
  5. For W. H. L. Watson, the first tanks "were colored with the romance that had long ago departed from war." Later observers have been more inclined to see the rise of military technology as having put an end to the romance of war.
    1. What accounts for Watson's association of the tank with "romance"? To what extent does Keith Douglas share aspects of this perspective?
    2. Can you think of examples from contemporary culture in which the latest military technology is associated with romance?
  6. Hardy's "Channel Firing" (NAEL 2.1944–1945) was written a few months before World War I broke out.
    1. What effect is produced by the juxtaposition of the "great guns" firing offshore with mentions of Camelot and Stonehenge?
    2. Does Hardy's response to military technology prefigure that of the War Poets, or does his poem belong to an older tradition?
  7. Poems of World War I and II, such as Ivor Gurney's "Towards Lillers" and Henry Reed's "Naming of Parts" (NAEL 2.2529–2531) juxtapose descriptions of airplanes and guns with observations of nature and the seasons.
    1. Do these poets regard technologized warfare as opposed to natural rhythms, or do they suggest a deeper harmony?
    2. In each poem, what is the significance of the season of the year to the poet's thoughts about technology and war?
  8. Compare Richard Hillary's quest for "amusement, fear, and exaltation" as a fighter pilot in World War II with Yeats's poem on a pilot in the World War I, "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death." What do their visions of the air war have in common? How has the romance attached to the fighter pilot changed between the wars?
  9. David Jones's In Parenthesis (NAEL 2.2079–2084) is patterned on the sixth-century Welsh poem Y Gododdin, Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" (NAEL 2.2069–2070) responds to a line by the Roman poet Horace, and Keith Douglas's "Aristocrats" (NAEL 2.2537–2538) closes with a reference to the medieval French epic The Song of Roland.
    1. How do each of these poets suggest the continuity or discontinuity between these ancient models of warfare and heroism and the wars of the twentieth century? To what extent has military technology altered the nature and meaning of warfare?
    2. Comparing one of these poems to its source text, how does the twentieth-century poet respond to the older poem as a model of "war poetry"?
  10. W. H. Auden's "Spain 1937" (NAEL 2.2502) is written in support of the side of the left in the Spanish Civil War. "The Shield of Achilles" (NAEL 2.2511–2512), written fifteen years later, is far from supporting any side in any conflict.
    1. How do these poems reflect on the gulf separating past and present modes of warfare?
    2. How have Auden's thoughts about war altered between these two poems, and what might account for this?
  11. The mushroom cloud that rose over Hiroshima in 1945 became a defining image of the World War II and, in a wider sense, of the technological terrors of the twentieth century.
    1. How did the crew of the Enola Gay respond to this sight? In particular, how did they use metaphors and figurative language in their attempt to comprehend this radically unfamiliar sight?
    2. To what extent has the mushroom cloud itself become a metaphor for a range of ideas and anxieties? What, on an immediate and emotional level, does the image signify to you?

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