The War in Vietnam
Perhaps more than any other conflict in U.S. history, the Vietnam War divided the nation as it elicited debates over U.S. foreign policy in Southeast Asia. A diverse range of people increasingly opposed the Vietnam War, and used an array of tactics and texts to persuade fellow citizens to end the conflict. In addition to the numerous marches and protests, anti-war proponents created a tremendous archive of documents that express how and why they felt the Vietnam War was unnecessary, illegitimate, and/or immoral.
In this paper, students will assess and evaluate the rationales for why people in the 1960s and early 1970s opposed the Vietnam War. The goal of this paper is not to take a side in this debate; rather, it is to try to understand the arguments against the war made at the time. To do so, students will engage with the three texts:
• Peter Davis (director), Hearts and Minds
• John Kerry, Testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee
• Julian Bond/SNCC, Vietnam: An Antiwar Comic
As students analyze these texts, they should consider the following questions: Was there a consensus amongst people who opposed the Vietnam War? Did they agree as to why they understood the war to be unnecessary, illegitimate, or immoral? Did they agree about why the U.S. was fighting in Vietnam and why it was urgent to end the war? Did they view the U.S. in a similar light? The Vietnamese? Did they similarly understand the impact of the war on U.S. soldiers? Did they have shared views about the role of U.S. military officials and political leaders? Did they draw on similar rhetorical appeals to persuade their audiences of the need to end the war?
Papers should thesis-driven and interpretive. ***Students are welcome to center their argument and analysis on any theme of their choosing.***
However, students may also structure their essays as a response to the following:
Agree or disagree with the following statement: Despite the diversity of media through which they expressed their views, anti-war proponents shared similar beliefs about why the war was wrong and why it should end.
If you agree with this statement, please identify what these beliefs were and please indicate how they are articulated across the three texts.
If you disagree, please indicate how you understand the texts to be making different claims about the Vietnam War and the reasons for their opposition to it.
**Papers must address all three sources.
In the conclusion of the paper, students are welcome (though not required) to weigh in on their assessment of the arguments made against the Vietnam War.
Papers should be approximately five-to-six pages long. Please use the following format for your paper: 12 point Times New Roman font; one-inch margins; double-spaced. Please be sure to staple your paper together. Please provide an original title for your essay.
Papers will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
Strength of analysis
–does the paper have a strong and identifiable central claim (i.e. thesis)
–does the author support his/her claims with specific, compelling evidence and analysis
–is the analysis thoughtful and well-reasoned
–does the author address the issues required for this assignment
–is the essay well-organized
–does the author use effective topic sentences and transitions
–does the author stay on topic consistently
–does the essay have an appropriate introduction and conclusion
–has the author followed basic grammatical rules (ex. verb tense consistency, subject-verb agreement, proper use of punctuation, avoidance of fragments and run-on sentences, etc.)
–does the paper contain spelling errors
–does the paper conform to required specifications (12 point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, stapled)
–does the paper have an original title
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