Voices in Wartime Discussion Guide

How to Use This Module

Determining the Reasons for Using the Film
Why are you using Voices in Wartime as part of your curriculum, study, or discussion group? Answering this question will help you begin to determine how you will be using the Voices in Wartime Discussion and Action Guide.  The first step as an instructor or facilitator you will want to take is to view the film. Starting on pages 51 of this module you will find the script for the film. As you watch the film, use the script as a guide to help determine which areas of the film you will want to concentrate your discussion. Mark these areas as you go along. After seeing the film and reflecting on it, return to the script, review the questions that correspond to portions of the film you want to explore in your discussion session. Some instructors will be using the film to support the study of history, others as an introduction to war poetry, and still others as part of a film studies curriculum. Facilitators may use the film to advance their discussion on efforts of peace, as an action component to their work, or to help determine next steps in their strategic planning.
Determining Discussion Questions
As you read through the discussion questions, determine if these are the most appropriate questions to meet your needs. Reframe the questions, add new ones to complement your objectives. Questions provided are there as a framework. As you can see there are no questions about the technical nature of the film. If this is your area of interest, you will need to come up with questions.
Setting Objectives  
After viewing the film, consider the objectives for showing it. Writing out your objectives will determine how you will use the supportive material in this module. Some examples of objectives might be:
  1. Explore the role of the poet and poetry in today’s society.
  2. Discuss the importance of poetry during times of conflict and war.
  3. Experience the use of writing in response to expressing one’s thoughts and feelings.
  4. Relate specific national and global events to the writing of a period.
  5. Read, discuss, and relate to the poetry of the First World War.
  6. Learn about psychological trauma that has plagued warriors and civilians of war through the ages.
  7. Commit to a plan of involvement to help returning veterans or victims of war.
If you are exploring literature or using the film to support classes in the humanities or social sciences you will want to consider using the first essay in the module, “War, Poetry and the Human Spirit” by Jon Stallworthy. The essay is rich with references to poetry through the ages and numerous selections of writing, discussion questions and activities are included. Some instructors may elect to use the essay and supporting materials to it as an introduction to the film. Other teachers may decide to use the essay as a follow-up to the film.
One approach to setting the stage for viewing Voices in Wartime is for people to talk first in small groups about war, the reasons wars occur, and the consequences of war, and then share their ideas within a larger group. As the students present their ideas, ask them to talk about how conflict arises in their own lives and communities, how it is dealt with, and the fear and stress it engenders. If this approach is used to set the stage for the film, you will
want to come back to it as part of the debriefing after the film. In addition to this procedure, you may decide to use some of the following questions when discussing the film:
  1. What image are you left with after seeing the film? What do these images make you think and feel?
  2. What emotions are churning in you at this moment? Why do you believe you are feeling the way that you are?
  3. How is poetry a coping mechanism for those who experience war?
  4. Out of the voices of poets in the film, which ones resonate for you and why do you think this is so?
  5. What lessons are you reminded of after seeing the film?
Another excellent way to process the film is to use writing as a tool. Review the activity, “Writing Your Reactions,” on page 86. Other activities are contained in the section, “Responding to Viewing the Film,” pages 86-116, are also offered. These include the work of nine individuals who have chosen to write about their experiences and thoughts of war. Questions for reflection are provided for each of their works.
Another section in the module, “Acting on the Film,” pages 117-128, presents a framework to think differently about conflict and war. The opening essay, “Our Responsibility to Wage Peace,” by David Krieger is followed by questions for reflection, and the exploration of a number of historical documents that help us consider how peace, responsibility to issues of justice and equity and humane conduct are in place for the global community. The final activity in the section, “Thinking Through a Different Perspective,” takes an approach that the sociologist and futurist Elise Boulding has been using for years to imagine the future.
The final working section of the module, pages 129-132, presents materials that you can use with a short film that on focuses on post-traumatic stress disorder, Beyond Wartime. This section suggests further resources are provided and offers background information on post-traumatic stress disorder.