Winter 2019 HC 444H/431H: The American Experience in Vietnam

Winter Term, 2018-2019

Professor: Steve Rabe

4.00 credits

CRN 26801: Thursday, 14:00 – 16:50 @ GSH 130

Graduation Requirement: This class will fulfill both of the following requirements: a Social Science Colloquium and an AC (American Cultures) Multicultural class. If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements: an Elective Colloquium and an AC Multicultural class.

This course will analyze the American experience in Vietnam, 1950-1975. We will examine why the United States devoted blood and treasure to its lengthy, unsuccessful venture to create an independent, non-Communist South Vietnam. In analyzing the American experience in Vietnam, we will also want to give proper attention to the nature and character of Vietnamese society and consider the Vietnamese perspective on all issues. 

The course will take a multi-disciplinary approach to these issues. We will read the views of political and military officials and historians and political scientists. We will further want to analyze how novelists, filmmakers, dramatists, poets, philosophers, musicians, media critics, anti-war activists, and veterans have attempted to explain Vietnam. 

During the semester, we will also be viewing documentaries such as Hearts and Minds, Remember My-Lai, The War at Home, and Regret to Inform, the play, Medal of Honor Rag, and excerpts from feature films such as Apocalypse Now and Hamburger Hill.


Faithful attendance at class sessions; vigorous and informed participation in class discussions; submission of a series (5) of short (1,250 words) papers based on assigned readings.  Final grade will be based on instructor's evaluation of student's entire effort in class.

Potential Textbooks:

  • Michael Hunt, Lyndon Johnson’s War
  • Duong Van Mai Elliot, The Sacred Willow
  • Graham Greene, The Quiet American
  • Philip Caputo, A Rumor of War
  • Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
  • Duong Thu Huong, Novel without a Name