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TRA 181 The First World War in Words and Walks: The Places and the Pages of Flanders Fields




Course Description

A century after the War to End All Wars – World War One (1914-1918) – what remains? How can we better understand these events, which continue to shape our own world? One way is to enter the landscapes of England, Belgium and France to experience the physical remains of those events; to stand at the edge of a mine crater, to look up at the ridge near Vimy that Canadians assaulted in 1917, or to walk the trenches which still exist there.

Another way is to hear the words of the men and women who tried to capture what the war meant for them, in mémoires, poetry and fiction.This travel study brings together both of these approaches to truly understand what was. Through visits to sites and museums, we will come into direct contact with the everyday objects and the places experienced by combattants. We will also explore some of the most important and evocative writing of wartime experiences.

London's Imperial War Museum offers an irreplaceable collection of artifacts of WWI. We will explore the war museum prior to travelling to the landscapes of the Western Front. We will visit the sites of important Canadian actions in the war, such as the Somme, Beaumont-Hamel, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and the Ypres Salient. Our own experience of place will be supplemented with the words of selected British and Canadian authors and poets including Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Ivor Gurney, Rebecca West, and Vera Brittain, along with Timothy Findley, Jane Urquhart, Joseph Boyden, and Michael Winter.

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