20 June 2013

'War Stories' Online Writing Course Starts July 29

Jason S. Ridler, an historian and former punk rock musician who now writes mixed-martial arts, professional wrestling, and other genre fiction, once taught at the Royal Military College of Canada. He has a doctorate in war studies from the same institution.

Now, via Writers on the Net, Ridler is teaching an eight-week online literature and writing course titled "War Stories: Writing about the Human Dimension of Warfare." The course begins July 29, 2013.

A second course, "Kick Out the Words! A Punk Rock Guide to Writing Fiction," begins June 24.

Cost for each is $295.

"I've worked and lived with soldiers for a good part of my life, and spent a decade teaching them," Ridler says via e-mail interview. "I've found military affairs compelling and important since I was a teenager, but knew very well that I was too strange and anti-authoritarian to join any military service. And yet, I'm compelled by their work! I'm a walking contradiction!"

Ridler is also a contributing editor to the "Journal of Military Experience."

According to the "War Stories" course description, veterans of all ages are welcome, as are spouses, journalists, and all those interested in understanding how best to write about the human dimension of military affairs. By the end of the course, participants in Ridler's online workshop will:

  • Demonstrate an appreciation for the unique nature of war writing through exercises based on readings and/or experiences.
  • Apply theories, tools, and concepts about war writing to their own written work.
  • Develop a voice as an author of war stories through the creation of a final essay.

"[War stories] are important to me because they offer others the chance to recreate experience and examine it. This can be done in fiction or memoir," Ridler says. "In either case, that re-creation allows for not just the value of expression for the writer, but a point of connection to the reader. There's a belief in some circles that reading the perspectives of those different than creates empathy and understanding, critical elements in reducing violence. I believe that for most people, reading and writing war stories also accomplishes that goal. "

Ridler takes pains, however, to ensure students regard the course as a literary or academic opportunity, rather than one for healing wounds. The course outline, for example, contains the disclaimer that he is an historian and writer, not a therapist:
While the course may be cathartic for many students, it is, in no way shape or form, a substitute for therapeutic aid for those suffering from trauma or any other illness. Those with such concerns should find help through medical professionals, veterans organizations, and other aid services.
For more information on how to enroll in either of Ridler's online courses, click here.

For more information on Ridler's work and writing, visit his "Ridlerville" Facebook page or blog.

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