International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution

Article

The Truth of Fiction: Literature as a Source of Insight into Social Conflict and Its Resolution

Keywords literary approaches to conflict resolution, narrative theory, mass movements, social transformation, social injustice
Authors Angelica R. Martinez en Richard E. Rubenstein
Author's information

314509 Angelica R. Martinez
Angelica R. Martinez is a PhD candidate at George Mason University and the Branch Chief of Policy and Assessment for NATO’s Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey. She taught in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point).

314512 Richard E. Rubenstein
Richard E. Rubenstein is University Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. His most recent book is Resolving Structural Conflicts: How Violent Systems Can Be Transformed (2017).
  • Abstract

      The study of literature, although relatively new to the field of peace and conflict studies, has proven to be a valuable way to develop our understanding of violent social conflicts and the possible methods of resolving or transforming them. Literary texts present students of human conflict and conflict resolution with an appreciation of the power of “thick” descriptions of the human experience and the problems with “thin” modes of expression. Narrative and literary works reveal the indelible marks that violence and conflict inscribe on those left in their wake. Examining conflict through literature also grants students access to the ethical and moral dilemmas that people face as they navigate complex and oppressive social systems. A graduate-level course in “Conflict and Literature” taught for the past ten years at George Mason University provides evidence of these uses and suggests the possibility of further pedagogical developments.

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