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West Point English professor and author Elizabeth Samet to discuss teaching literature to future soldiers. Wednesday, March 26, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — U.S. Military Academy English professor Elizabeth Samet, author of the 2007 New York Times Notable Book Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, will discuss aspects of her teaching and writing on Wednesday, March 26, at 5:30 p.m., in Sanders Classroom Auditorium (Room 212). This event is free and open to the public.

Upon its release, Soldier's Heart was greeted with overwhelming critical acclaim. Named after a term for combat fatigue, Samet's book recounts her teaching experience and explains the role of literature in the lives of her students headed to Iraq. "By writing a thoughtful, attentive, stereotype-breaking book … Samet should be heeded by journalists and politicians," wrote Robert Pinsky in The New York Times Book Review. Additionally, Newsweek praised her "meditation on the need for both myth and reality in preparing young officers for war," while the Chicago Tribune hoped the book would "finds its way to more than a few Capitol Hill nightstands."

In a September interview with 02138 magazine, Samet explained the importance of teaching literature to first-year cadets.

"I provide the plebes with an introduction to literature comparable in terms of quality, diversity of opinion, and richness to what they can get elsewhere," she told Timothy McCarthy. "I want the cadets to have a private intellectual life, and to be the best officers they can be as well. After all, if they stay in the Army, these are the people who are going to be the generals of the future. And if they get out, they'll likely be policymakers."

Samet has also authored Willing Obedience: Citizens, Soldiers, and the Progress of Consent in America, 1776–1898 (2004). A native of Weston, MA, she received her B.A. from Harvard and her Ph.D. in English literature from Yale, before joining the U.S. Military Academy faculty in 1997.

The Department of English, Office of the Dean of the College, and Program in American Culture are co-sponsors of this event.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, March 3, 2008