Teaching Hearts and Minds: College Students Reflect on the Vietnam War in Literature

Synopsis

In this book, Barry M. Kroll tells how college students in the late 1980s responded to his course on the Vietnam War in literature. Kroll designed the course to engage students' hearts and minds in the processes of connected and critical inquiry. He argues that students should be personally absorbed in a topic- emotionally connected to key issues and texts- if inquiry is to be more than a perfunctory exercise.

Kroll raises a number of important critical questions about texts and meaning, particularly concerning the nature of authority and the reader's role in creating meaning. He focuses on students' efforts to think reflectively about literary representation, historical truth, and moral justification. Drawing on John Dewey's concept of reflective inquiry, Kroll asserts that his course did not challenge his students to "acquire" information, but rather to "inquire"- to explore, probe, and query.