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The Vietnam War: Its Legacy in Literature

About the Program

Termed the Vietnam War by Americans and the American War by the Vietnamese, America’s first “long” war, which took place between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s, quickly became a topic of interest to writers of literature. While the canon of Vietnam War literature began in 1955 with the publication of the British novel The Quiet American by Graham Greene, thousands of literary works have been written about the involvement of the United States and other countries in the conflict in Vietnam, most by American writers. The war’s literary expression has continued into the twenty-first century, encompassing a number of genres—novels, poetry, short stories, memoirs, oral histories, and collections of letters, for instance—and influencing the literature that is emerging from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This talk provides an overview of the vast canon of Vietnam War literature—including Arkansas author contributions such as Phillip McMath’s Native Ground—its literary antecedents, the diverse types of stories told, the need for writers to engage in sense-making and to bear witness, and the way that this growing body of literature has evolved since the 1950s.

This program is part of NEA Big Read: CALS.  An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

About the Speaker

Catherine Calloway received her doctorate from the University of South Florida in 1987 and wrote her dissertation on Vietnam War fiction. She is professor of English at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where she directs the English graduate program. She has published and presented numerous items on contemporary writers as well as on Vietnam War literature and is a regular contributor to American Literary Scholarship, An Annual and to Oxford University Press’s Oxford Bibliographies Online series. With Alex Vernon at Hendrix College, she co-edited the book Approaches to Teaching the Works of Tim O’Brien (Modern Language Association 2010). She has also published in Critique: Studies in Contemporary LiteratureArkansas ReviewWar, Literature, and the Arts: An International Journal of the HumanitiesTampa Review, and other academic forums.

About Legacies & Lunch

Legacies & Lunch is a free monthly program of CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies about Arkansas related topics.  Program are generally held from noon to 1 pm on the first Wednesday of the month in the Main Library’s Darragh Center.  Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert are provided.  A library parking discount is available upon request.  For more information, please contact 320-5700.

Photo: Members of Alpha Company, Fifth Tank Battalion, Vietnam; 1969. Arkansas author Phillip H. McMath is standing third from right. Photo courtesy of Phillip McMath.

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Date and Time

April 1 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm