Proposed Advanced Individual Academic Development (AIAD) Experiences
Pre-decisional for Academic Year 2017
Shakespeare's War Plays:
On this AIAD, we will travel to London to study the intersection of war and theater in the age of Shakespeare. We will study some of Shakespeare's war plays and see world-class actors perform them at the reconstructed Globe Theatre and Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's home town. Activities will include discussions of selected Shakespeare plays, tours of Shakespeare's London and Stratford, and a visit to the Imperial War Museum. We will explore how Shakespeare's depictions of personal, political, and military conflict – and the performance of them onstage – can inform our understanding of war and leadership in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Siegfried Sassoon: Soldier and Poet: This summer marks the 100th anniversary of “Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration,” Siegfried Sassoon’s famous letter protesting the continuation of World War I. Rather than court-martial Sassoon, the British Army sent him to Craiglockhart, a military hospital for shell-shocked officers in Edinburgh. While at Craiglockhart, Sassoon penned many of his well-known poems and helped other war poets, most notably Wilfred Owen, develop their work as well. Sassoon eventually returned to the war and afterward spent several decades as a successful writer. This sixteen-day AIAD has a three-fold purpose: to learn about one of the most celebrated soldier-poets of the 20th century; to achieve a better understanding of how literature can be used to shape and process wartime experiences; and to provide cadets with an opportunity to complete an individual project using archival material. We will begin with a few days of classwork at USMA and then travel to various locations in the UK, including Edinburgh, London, Cambridge, and Sandhurst.
Ethics and Literature in Prague: Cadets will take a trip to the Czech Republic to explore historical examples concerning Operation Anthropoid and the assassination of Reinhard Heydrick—the Butcher of Prague—during WWII. This one week AIAD has a two-fold purpose: for cadets to focus on Just War Theory and the morality surrounding why and how wars should be waged, as well as to achieve a better understanding of how literature gives meaning to the human experience of war. Cadets will read Lauren Binet’s historical novel HHhH and, with Prague as our backdrop, we will discuss just war moral principles and the literary treatment of the ethics concerning occupation, assassination, and reprisal.
American Literature as Travelogue Through Italy: In this AIAD, we will visit Rome, Venice, and Florence in order to develop an understanding of American literature’s movement across borders. Specifically, we’ll look at authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain, reading their works as travelogues that help us historically situate American literature in a transnational context. In addition to visiting locations from the authors’ books, we will explore places such as the Vatican and St. Peter’s, Il Grade Museo Del Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, and Teatro Salone Margherita, where we will see La Traviata. All cadets will read three common texts in advance of the AIAD and each cadet will select one for deeper study that will be enhanced by the cultural explorations taking place over our two weeks abroad. The three-fold nature of this AIAD allows cadets to develop a transnational approach to American literature, build capacities for appreciating the cultural foundations of American literature, and see the ways in which literature functioned as travelogue in the 19th century.
The Great Migration: African American Literature and Culture
The Great Migration of the early 20th century encompasses specific forms of expression into northern cities. The study of the migration, through the lens of music and literature, offers a unique perspective into the condition and traumatic experiences of millions of displaced people. This AIAD will explore the ontological experience of migrants during the Great Migration, alongside the evolution of music, particularly that which offers therapy and transcendence with respect to coping with displacement, fragmentation, and racial prejudice. The African American Vernacular Tradition (AAVT) functions as an ideological container that preserves and cultivates forms of ontological experiences. Many scholars argue that trends exist in the evolution of sound from early slave songs, Negro spirituals, jazz, blues, rhythm and blues (R&B), and modern-day rap. We will conduct our own migration as we explore the jazz, blues, and rap music of New Orleans, LA, the Negro spirituals in Tuskegee, AL, and the MLK center in Atlanta, GA, and we will conclude by exploring the Harlem Renaissance in Harlem, NY.
The readings will include, Jazz by Toni Morrison, excerpts from Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Ethics of Cyber Warfare: This fifteen-day traveling seminar will begin at USMA with classroom lecture, discussion, and activities. Cadets will read and discuss various philosophical articles on cyber and cyber warfare. They will weigh cyber against current Just War theory, and prior to our AIAD, we will take a trip section the West Point Cyber Institute. Our first travel stop will be Oxford, UK for three days, and we will spend time learning from, and debating with, these Just War Theorists on the use of cyber in war. In addition to the Just War Theorists, we will have a panel of cyber experts from the NSA and GCHQ who will discuss cyber as it fits within Just War theory. We will also spend a day at the Defense Academy of the United Kingdom speaking with British military Cyber experts. At the end of our time in Oxford, the cadets will hold a debate on the ethical use of cyber in war. Our next stop will be at the Jubilee Centre for Virtue and Ethics in Birmingham, England. We will spend time with members of the Jubilee Centre and discuss their work with character and the British Military and see how the idea of character and virtue can apply to cyber war and Just War Theory.
Writing Today: Cadets travel to Washington, D.C. for ten days to study the vital roles that effective writing plays in college educations, journalism, public policy, and the lives of veterans. Past partners include representatives from the White House, the Smithsonian, Congress, the CIA, Pentagon, CNN, Johns Hopkins, USNA, National Public Radio, the Frameworks Institute, Rutgers, and the Veterans Writing Workshop. This is an invaluable experience for any Cadet who desires to improve as a writer and communicator while also exploring the rich cultural landscape of Washington
*Pictures captions in order: 1. Cadets explore the Tower of London, during the 2015 Shakespeare's War Plays AIAD. 2. The 2015 Writing Today AIAD visits the Briefing Room at the White House. 3. At the War Museum in Prague, Cadets from the 2015 War & Narrative AIAD sit atop a T-34, a Russian tank from WWII.