The Virtues of War

This is a page to organize material and conversation about the Spring 2017 course being giving through the Political Science Department at Duke University;

The Virtues of War: Politics, Policy, & Perception of Military Service

The course is being cross listed by the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, and may count toward certificates in either Civic Engagement & Social Change or Philosophy, Politics, & Economics. It also fulfills undergraduate requirements for the Civilizations (CZ) Area of Knowledge and satisfies Ethical (EI) and Cross-Cultural (CCI) Modes of Inquiry. General Martin Dempsey and NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti have been confirmed as speakers.

Click to view the Course Syllabus, which was developed with the support of, and endorsed by, the university’s Office of Institutional Equity. Students can click to view the Rubric by which assignments will be graded. The Reading Schedule lists all required readings, with excerpts available as PDFs. Assignment One, a paper on martial virtues, and Assignment Two, a cultural analysis, can also be found here. *All course documents (except readings) are available in one place as a Collection, in case that is less confusing.


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The course is formatted as a seminar, with emphasis on reading and discussion rather than paper writing. To focus weekly conversation, I plan to present lectures of no more than 2000 words. These homilein, or short addresses meant to inspire conversation, will be posted on my blog where students and auditors alike can comment on them outside the classroom setting. Non-students are encouraged to participate in the comments section or follow along on social media by using the hashtag:     #VirtuesOfWar

The weekly homiliary, a schedule of addresses, will be hyperlinked as homilies are posted to the archive;


 I. ORIGINS OF VIRTUE (Weeks 4 – 7)


  • Feb. 28 & Mar. 2: Theater – Virtues on display
  • Mar. 7 & 9: Literature – The virtue of narrative(s)

[*Spring Recess]

  • Mar. 21 & 23 – World War One
    1. Alvin York
    2. Rene Remarque
  • Mar. 28 & 30  – World War Two
    1. Desmond Doss
    2. Audie Murphy
  • Apr. 4 & 6  – Vietnam
    1. Ron Kovic
    2. Hal Moore
  • Apr. 11 & 13  – Iraq
    1. Anthony Swofford
    2. Chris Kyle

III. EPILOGUE (Weeks 14 & 15)