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Writing a Letter Home - The Great War Project

Choose a soldier to write a letter from their perspective

In Cowsill and Shamas’ The War to End all Wars: World War One, 1914-1918, we get soldiers’ views of the war as the events and battles unfold. For the first part of the The Great War Project you are going to write a letter home from the perspective of one of the soldiers. This will involve using your informed creativity. Choose from one of the following soldiers: 
•    George Smith
•    Joseph (Joe) Smith
•    Khudadad Khan 

You need to state your soldier’s name, rank, regiment, age, and hometown at the top of the letter along with the date and place where the letter was written. Also, indicate with page in the graphic novel inspired your letter. A quality letter should reflect the soldier’s personality and experiences. 
You can write and structure the letter as you wish, but you will need to address three topics in some detail. 
1)    The letter must detail the soldier’s impressions and capture the sights, sounds, and smells around him and use language from the times. Look closely at what’s happening around the solider. Look at the proximity to other men, machinery, weapons. What do you think it was like to be experiencing life at that very moment?

2)    The letter must have the soldier ask about life back at home and make detailed references to the actual town or city (streets, buildings, geography). You can do this by reminiscing and/or asking about the current situation. This will take some research. For the Smith brothers, you can choose any town or city in England. Khudaddad Khan was from a village called Dab in the Punjab province in India. Look up the town or city. It has undoubtedly changed over the past 100+ years, but what would likely be the same? Some reading into the town’s history can also help. 

3)    *Be careful not to be too critical of the army or say too much about any plans as letters had to pass through army censors.     
Remember, that the soldier’s regiment should conform with the soldier’s hometown. 
The letter should be 300-400 words in length. You are welcome to write it by hand if you like or use any font you wish. There will be no extra marks for using old or cooked/burned paper. Keep your focus on the content.

•    Understanding of the historical context 
•    Correct information regarding regiment, rank, and hometown. Also note that page number from the graphic novel that the letter is based on. 
•    Realistic depiction of the soldier’s impressions and his immediate surroundings (accuracy & vividness)
•    Accurate depiction of the soldier’s hometown and homelife
•    Description of the soldier’s thoughts toward the war and life in the army
•    Overall plausibility of the letter and language used
•    Appropriateness of style of language (remember rank often indicates social class) and quality of writing
•    Required components are included 

Include soldier's impressions of war and immediate surroundings

Language and Context
*To complete this assignment, you need to read some actual letters and diaries (check the links below) and incorporate some of the language used at the place and time (Language List). You can also view British primary sources from World War I on the British National Archives and British Imperial War Museum sites. These letters will give you’re a better sense of the tone and language that was used by British soldiers during World War I. 

There were numerous battles, events, inventions, and people from the history of World War One that are featured in the graphic novel. For Part 2 you need to choose one. Some possibilities include: The Battle of Marne (p. 29), The Christmas Truce (p. 37), The Battle of the Somme (p. 63-69), The first tanks, (p. 69 & 74), The French Mutiny (p. 74), The Russian Revolution (p. 78), The German Spring Offensive of 1918 (p. 87-91). You may choose of these or something else that interests you from the graphic novel. Be sure to name it and indicate the page number. 

When you have decided on your topic, research it by completing a Secondary Source Evaluation of one book and one peer reviewed academic article. We will do this in the Week 7 live class. For each source, write the full bibliographic refence. Then, insert your secondary source score under it. Next, you need to write a paragraph in your own words explaining why you scored the source the way you did. Your paragraph must have Chicago style footnotes to indicate where you obtained your information and a bibliography of the sources following the paragraph. Try to find quality sources. If you run your topic through the Douglas College Library search engine, you should find plenty of material.

I gave Ian Kershaw high score based on his education and record. He holds a PhD in history from Oxford University and was a professor at the University of Sheffield.   Furthermore, he has a long-standing interest in German culture, language, and history.  He became interested in the appeal of Adolf Hitler amongst ordinary German people while studying German in Bavaria and was moved to switch from Medieval Studies to Modern History.  He is a distinguished scholar and one of the world’s leading authorities on Hitler and the German Third Reich.

 This book addresses the question of why and how Nazi Germany continued to fight in the face of certain defeat, and Kershaw presents several intriguing and well-researched conclusions using primary and secondary sources in several languages.  While Penguin Books isn’t a strictly academic publisher, they publish academic and non-academic books and they are one the world’s oldest and reputable publishers.  Therefore, I felt justified is giving them four out of four.

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