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Academic Program

World Literature 310: Vietnam Literature, taught by David Crowe, will acquaint students with some of the classic Vietnam war literature and film, (Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods, Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now), with an English classic about the pre-war world of espionage and diplomacy (Graham Greene's The Quiet American), and literature from the point of view of Vietnamese soldiers and citizens (Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War and Robert Olin Butler's A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain). We will discuss the nature and purpose of the Vietnam War, its effects on soldiers and civilians, and the meaning of the war in American myths and public conversations. Our time in Vietnam will involve infamous sites shown in this literature: the Hanoi Hilton, the battlefields of Hue and Danang, the Presidential Palace of Saigon, the tunnels of Cu Chi, the Mekong Delta, and more.

From War to Doi Moi: Vietnam's Economic Liberalization, taught by Ann Ericson, will focus on Vietnam's communist government's policy, known as the doi moi (renovation) policy, which has driven the country's recent dramatic economic growth. In response to the dire state of the country, in 1986 doi moi was introduced which moved Vietnam to a free-market economy while retaining the government's absolute power. As a result of this policy, Vietnam's production capabilities have drastically improved, and poverty has fallen sharply. We will discuss how the country's economic growth has had an enormous impact on its people, not only on their standard of living, but on their core values and cultural traditions. The course will contribute to the term's exploration of how once implacable enemies with contrasting ideologies and economic systems have come to develop a more cooperative relationship. Today the United States is Vietnam's largest export market and the U.S. businesses are not only using Vietnam's resources especially its labor, but are also selling goods and services to an emerging middle-class.

Politics in Developing Nations, taught by Mariano Magalhães's, will examine the challenges facing Vietnam at the beginning of the 21st century. Despite its communist regime (one of only a handful of remaining communist countries in the world today), Vietnam today exhibits many of the same traits found in the developing world: corruption and the difficulties of urban life, conflict over how to cope with globalizing forces, an emerging youth culture, the clash of traditional culture with Western-style capitalist values, the role of religion, changing political beliefs, the strong legacy of history, and widespread poverty and stifling repression. This course will analyze just how much the current Vietnamese experience overlaps with that of other developing countries, especially its neighbors in Southeast Asia. In this course students will also discuss how the Vietnamese communist regime has dealt with these many challenges.