Acts and Shadows: The Vietnam War in American Literary Culture

Overview

The imaginative literature of the Vietnam War participates?both overtly and covertly?in a struggle for national memory. First-generation Vietnam War literature, focusing on representations of combat and life in the battlefield, strove to give testimony, to write history. Later writings, in their range of genre and style, investigate and interrogate the very meaning of war?and ultimately reveal the deep and far-reaching impact of the Vietnam experience on the American psyche. To reflect these two stages, Philip ...

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Overview

The imaginative literature of the Vietnam War participates—both overtly and covertly—in a struggle for national memory. First-generation Vietnam War literature, focusing on representations of combat and life in the battlefield, strove to give testimony, to write history. Later writings, in their range of genre and style, investigate and interrogate the very meaning of war—and ultimately reveal the deep and far-reaching impact of the Vietnam experience on the American psyche. To reflect these two stages, Philip Jason divides his newest book of literary criticism into two sections: "acts" and "shadows." In "Acts," Jason provides formal and cultural readings of combat narratives—by such authors as James Webb, Larry Heinemann, and Joe Haldeman—and explores the meaning of "authenticity" as applied to Vietnam War texts. "Shadows" looks both forward and backward from the combat zone, challenging the parameters of what we define as "Vietnam War literature." Jason brings to the fore the literary treatment of Vietnamese Americans; he explores the representation of the war in contemporary detective fiction, focusing on the work of James Lee Burke; and he raises questions of genre and canon by placing Korean War and Vietnam War fiction side by side. Two final chapters on teaching the literature of the Vietnam War make this book a particularly useful reference for teachers. As a new contribution to the contemporary debates on authority, authenticity, and canonicity, Acts and Shadows is crucial reading for scholars and students of American literature in the twentieth century and beyond.

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Editorial Reviews

South Atlantic Review
The lasting value of Acts and Shadows is that Jason unveils how myth, gender, and race interact in post-Vietnam heroes in American literature, both the frightening paramilitary side as well as the regenerative healing side. . . . Whether you know a great deal about the Vietnam war or not, Philip Jason will teach you something. Buy this book.
Contemporary Literature
For the novice of the expert, Philip K. Jason's Acts and Shadows offers an erudite and thoroughgoing survey of representations of the war in American literature.
The VVA Veteran
Philip K. Jason shows off his wide knowledge of Vietnam War literature in Acts and Shadows.
Kent Blaster
Jason offers a brief, straightforward, easily accessible introduction to many of the main themes and works of Vietnam War literature.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847699568
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2000
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip K. Jason is professor of English at the United States Naval Academy. He is the author or editor of numerous critical works on American literature and of three collections of poetry.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Part 2 Acts Chapter 3 Vision and Tradition Chapter 4 Sexism and Racism in Vietnam War Fiction Chapter 5 Joe Haldeman and the Wounds of War Chapter 6 Vietman As Noise Part 7 Shadows Chapter 8 Vietnamese in America Chapter 9 Hard-Boiled Nam I: The Vietnam War in Detective Fiction Chapter 10 Hard-Boiled Nam II: James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux Chapter 11 Vietnam War Themes in Korean War Literature Chapter 12 Going Back to Go Forward Part 13 Coda: Teaching War Literature Chapter 14 Teaching the Literature of War or Teaching the War through Literature Chapter 15 Representations of War in Ethics Education

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