HISTORY 398: Special Topics: The Vietnam Experience

(Online ACS Course Fall 1999)


Schedule of Classes

Richmond (Ernest Bolt)

Office and Office Hours: Ryland Hall 107, MW 11:00 to noon; TTH 2:15-3:00; other times by appointment

Class begins on Wed Aug 25

Class ends on Mon Dec 6

Final Exam 7-10 p.m. on F Dec 10


Wed Aug 25 -- Local Course: Nature of Online Course and Introductions


WEEK 1: What made the wars possible?

Mon Aug 30: Pre-Colonial Vietnam (Bolt)

1. SarDesai 1-30

2. Duiker 5-11

3. Taylor, from The Birth of Vietnam (Library Reserve) 17-27, 37-41, 334-339

4. Terada, from Under the Starfruit Tree (Library Reserve) 120-125


Wed Sept 1: The French Experience in Vietnam (Lairson)

1. SarDesai 31-56

2. Duiker 11-94

3. Herring 21-45

Complete the Background Knowledge Survey


WEEK 2: Origins of American involvement

Mon Sept 6: (Labor Day -- Not a holiday at Richmond): Exemplary French film and literature (Alexander)

1. Hayslip, from When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, 1-23 (Library Reserve)

2. "Indochine"


Wed Sept 8: The U.S. Advisory Experience, 1954-1965 ( Bolt)

1. Duiker 95-164

2. Herring 47-119

3. Moore, from The Green Berets (O'Nan 17-40)


WEEK 3: Americans cross the Rubicon

Mon Sept 13 and W Sept 15: Paths not taken: Counterfactual Thinking about the Johnson escalation, 1964-65 (Lairson)

1. Herring 121-157

2. Burke and Greenstein, from How Presidents Test Reality: 118-133; 150-173; 195-230 (Library Reserve)

3. Duiker 172-184

4. Simulation



At this point in the course, each professor determines readings for your class, based on the local course requirements.

Mon Sept 20 and Wed Sept 22: Who was John Paul Vann?

1. Sheehan, from A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, "Ap Bac" (Library     Reserve) 203-265

(Yom Kipur)

Wed Sept 22 -- First film/documentary review paper due


WEEK 5: Search and Destroy/People's War

Mon Sept 27: American strategic operations and questions (Lairson)

1. Herring 159-201

2. Halberstam, from One Very Hot Day (O'Nan 57-72)

Wed Sept 29: People's War and Tran Van Tra (Bolt)

1. Duiker 139-184; 185-208

2. Tran Van Tra (online selections of his memoirs)

3. "Life in the Maquis" (Library Reserve)


WEEK 6: Literature and film on fighting the war: Part One

Mon Oct 4 and Wed Oct 6: Perspectives of witnesses: representing the combat experience (Alexander)

1. Edwards, from Bloods (O'Nan 324-337)

2. O'Brien, from The Things They Carried (O'Nan 503-538)


WEEK 7: The Tet Offensive

1. Herring 203-241

2. Duiker 204-218

3.O'Brien, from In the Lake of the Woods (O'Nan 655-671)


Wed Oct 13: The Tet Offensive (Lairson)

                     Additional Materials on the Tet Offensive (Bolt)



At this point in the course, each professor determines readings for your class, based on the local course requirements.

Mon Oct 18: Further Discussion of My Lai

Wed Oct 20 -- Visiting Speaker: Tayloe Wise

1. Wise, "August - LZ Becky's Death" (Library Reserve)


WEEK 9: Nixon's Wars

Mon Oct 25: The war at home: The antiwar movement (Bolt)

1. Hassell, "Christman" and "untitled" (O'Nan 576, 578)

2. Rabe, from Sticks and Stones (O'Nan 351-364)

3. Herring 186-192

4. DeBenedetti and Chatfield, from An American Ordeal (Library Reserve)

5. Moser, from New Winter Soldiers (Library Reserve)


Wed Oct 27: Nixon's War through Cambodia (Lairson)

1. Webb, from Fields of Fire (O'Nan 130-149)

2. Herring 243-283

3. Edelman, ed., from Dear America (O'Nan 351-364)


WEEK 10: Americans Leave the War

Mon Nov 1: The Peace Accords (1973) and Release of POWs (Bolt)

1. Herring 243-283

2. Duiker 219-244


Wed Nov 3: End of the war (1975) (Lairson)

1. Herring 285-321

2. Duiker 244-250


WEEK 11: Literature and Film on Fighting the War - Part Two

Mon Nov 8: Literature, women and film (Hendricks and Alexander)

Wed Nov 10: The Veteran Experience (Hendricks and Alexander)

1. Herr, from Dispatches (O'Nan 200-233)

2. Weigl, selected poems (O'Nan 579-592)

3. Auger, in A Piece of my Heart (O'Nan 338-350)

4. CNN story on 1999 Women's Vets' Convention



At this point in the course, each professor determines readings for your class, based on the local course topics:

Richmond: Cambodia and the Vietnam Wars

Rollins: Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia; US/USSR/China

Centenary: Vietnamese refugee culture in America

Mon Nov 15

Wed Nov 17: Second film/documentary review due


WEEK 13: Postwar Vietnam: Doi Moi and Normalization

Mon Nov 22: Doi Moi and Normalization (1981 to the present) (Lairson)

1. SarDesai 93-119; 161-178

2. Ehrhart, "The Invasion of Grenada" (O'Nan 679)

3. O'Brien, "Speaking of Courage" and "Notes" (O'Nan 593-611)


Wed Nov 24: NO CLASS (Thanksgiving Break)


WEEK 14: Memorials and Remembering

Mon Nov 29: Bao Ninh, The Sorrow of War - Review Paper Due

Wed Dec 1: Discussion of Bao Ninh's Novel


Mon Dec 6 -- Local Course Day: Retrospective on the Course and Final Exam Preparation

Fri Dec 10 Final Exam 7-10 p.m.


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