This is a two-part class taught by Dr. Ed Lengel. The first class will take place on Thursday, March 1st, and will focus on American military participation in the conflict. The second class will meet on Thursday, March 8th, and will look more closely at literature, both fiction and memoirs, related to the war.
Class One – Thunder and Flames: U. S. Forces in Combat on the Western Front, 1917–1918
The United States entered the First World War in April 1917, and experienced combat for the first time in November of that year. Although the Americans did not enter major fighting until May of 1918, thereafter they were as deeply involved in combat as any other belligerent nation. In three short weeks from September to October 1918, over 20,000 Doughboys were killed in action. In this class, historian Edward Lengel chronicles the story of Americans in combat, from the Bathelemont raid of November 1917 that was a formative experience for a young George C. Marshall; to Chateau-Thierry, Cantigny, Belleau Wood, Soissons, and the Marne in the spring and summer of 1918; to the great battles of St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne in the fall of 1918. The focus will be on the human story of Americans at war, and the transformative effect that their experiences had on the United States.
Class Two – Literature of The Great War
Some of the twentieth century’s finest literature, including poetry, drama, and prose both fiction and nonfiction, emerged from the traumatic experience of The Great War of 1914–1918. In this class historian Edward Lengel, an expert on war literature and author of the comprehensive bibliography World War I Memories, surveys the most outstanding works in English. These include books by well-known English writers such as Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, as well as brilliant forgotten classics by Irishman John Lucy and Australian Ion Idriess, among others. Great works by women such as Vera Brittain, Elsie Janis and Florence Farmborough will receive special attention. Lengel also explores overlooked American classics, such as the powerful memoir Toward the Flame by novelist Hervey Allen. After taking this class, participants will be able to craft reading lists to help them experience the war first hand.
About Dr. Edward G. Lengel
Dr. Edward G. Lengel is currently Chief Historian of the White House and was formerly Editor-in-Chief of the Papers of George Washington. He is the author of several books on George Washington and on America’s involvement in World War I. His books on World War I include To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918—The Epic Battle That Ended the First World War and Thunder and Flames: Americans in the Crucible of Combat, 1917–1918. He has contributed articles for Military History, Military History Quarterly, American Heritage, American History, History Now, and Humanities.