Adrian Bonenberger, an MFA student in Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA program in creative writing and literature, will be teaching a course he began developing in CWL 581, the Practicum in Teaching Writing, next fall as part of the College Seminar Program at Yale University. The course, called “Memoir and the War on Terror,” will be offered through Jonathan Edwards College.
A combat veteran and memoirist himself, Bonenberger will bring multiple perspectives to his subject. Although war has a history of producing great memoirs, from Homer’s Iliad to Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, they have tended to be told in overwhelmingly white, male voices. But America has been at war since 2001, and those 14 years have brought forth a steady stream of testimonials from different perspectives, many of which have not traditionally enjoyed mainstream attention. Wives, widows, female combat veterans, minorities and non hetero-normative soldiers have all added to the tapestry of war memoir. “Rather than presenting students with major literary works that have been analyzed at length,” writes Bonenberger, “this class offers an exciting opportunity to use the craft and skills students have already developed in order to help shape a conversation that has not yet ossified.”
According to Bonenberger, the selection process for a Yale College Seminar involves two rounds of voting, one by students and another by faculty. In early March, students voted to include his course for Fall 2015, and to hold it at Jonathan Edwards. As for faculty, Aisling Colón, the director of Yale’s College Seminar Program, reports that Bonenberger’s course “was the first seminar to be selected and we are very excited to be able to offer his course next fall. I think it will be immensely popular.”
Adrian Bonenberger is an essayist and combat veteran from Branford, Connecticut. He lives in Harlem with two roommates and a pet drone. His essays, published in The New York Times’ “At War” blog, The Washington Post, Deadspin, Forbes and Commonweal Magazine, advocate responsible social progress and greater equality for disenfranchised groups. His memoir, Afghan Post (The Head & The Hand Press), debuted in January 2014.