Special Issue "War and Literature: Commiserating with the Enemy"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 11 January 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Rachel McCoppin

University of Minnesota Crookston, Liberal Arts and Education Department, 2900 University Ave., Crookston, MN 56716, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: world literature, world mythology, comparative literature

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The topic of war and literature has received much critical attention; however, this special issue focuses specifically on literary texts that discuss the topic of commiseration with the “enemy” within war literature. Texts that show authors and/or literary characters attempting to understand the motives, beliefs, cultural values, etc. of those who have been defined by their nations as their enemies often shows that the soldier has begun a process of reflection about why he or she is part of the war experience. These texts also show how political authorities often resort to propaganda and myth-making tactics that are meant to convince soldiers that they are fighting opponents who are evil, sub-human, etc., and are therefore their direct enemies. Literary texts that show an author and/or literary character trying to reflect against state supported definitions of good/evil, right/wrong, ally/enemy often present an opportunity to reevaluate the purposes of war, and one’s moral responsibility during wartime. In the contemporary era, with the threat of war a consistent reality, it is important to acknowledge the literary texts that reflect upon the political manipulation of belief during wartime that causes one to embrace intolerance towards others by maintaining a designation that they are the enemy.   

This issue is especially interested in receiving articles that discuss texts written from the viewpoint of soldiers contemplating the reasons as to why they are fighting. Texts that focus on a soldier’s reflection about what their enemy might be like, who they are, what they believe, etc. are especially desirable. Also texts that focus on the enemy with respect or commiseration are welcomed, like Euripides’ Trojan Women. In addition, texts that are written from the standpoint of the perceived enemy are also highly desirable, such as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet of the Western Front. This special issue is interested in texts from around the world from any era.

Prof. Rachel McCoppin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 350 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are fully funded by institutions through the Knowledge Unlatched initiative, resulting in no direct charge to authors. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • War and literature
  • Commiseration
  • Reflection upon enemy
  • Propaganda
  • Moral Responsibility

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Enemy Encounters in the War Poetry of Wilfred Owen, Keith Douglas, and Randall Jarrell
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030089
Received: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 September 2018 / Published: 14 September 2018
PDF Full-text (206 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
While some war poets amplify the concept of anonymity for enemy soldiers, projecting an “us vs. them” mentality, other defining voices of war counter this militaristic impulse to dehumanize the enemy. This pivot toward describing the World Wars more like humanitarian crises than
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While some war poets amplify the concept of anonymity for enemy soldiers, projecting an “us vs. them” mentality, other defining voices of war counter this militaristic impulse to dehumanize the enemy. This pivot toward describing the World Wars more like humanitarian crises than an epic of good and evil is most notable in poems that chronicle both real and imagined close-range encounters between combatants. The poem “Strange Meeting” by British First World War soldier Wilfred Owen uses the vision of two enemy soldiers meeting in hell to reinforce his famous notion that war is something to be pitied. As a result of technological advancements in the Second World War and the increasing distance of combat, the poems “Vergissmeinnicht” and “How to Kill” by British Second World War soldier Keith Douglas wrestle with dehumanizing the enemy and acknowledging their humanity. “Protocols” by American Second World War soldier Randall Jarrell is an imagined view of civilian victims, and is a reckoning with the horrors human beings are capable of committing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue War and Literature: Commiserating with the Enemy)
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