Dialogues on the Experience of War is an NEH program that uses the literature of war to connect veterans with their communities. At Auburn University, Mark Wilson saw the NEH’s call for proposals as an intriguing opportunity to bring public humanities programming to new communities. Over the course of a year, six groups from Alabama rural communities met to discuss literature and their personal experiences of war. Reading the World War I memoir Scarlet Fields helped groups build trust and comfort with one another while discussing the distant events depicted in the book; later, reading two works on the Vietnam War—The Things They Carried and Dispatches—helped many Vietnam veterans share their experiences, some of them for the first time.
“There was humor; there was seriousness. Most of the sessions went over by about 30 minutes.”
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