Sociology/ Anthropology Department

Peace, War & Memory Crossing

PWM Crossing

Dr. Lisa Leitz, Dr. Alex Vernon, and Dr. Michael Sprunger led students on a yearlong exploration of issues of peace, war & memory. The importance of public memory of wars and attempts at peace is exemplified in the way constructions of Vietnam peace protestors as anti-troop profoundly shaped the discourse around the 2003 Iraq War, which eventually pushed even the peace movement to adopt “support the troops” as an important slogan. The Crossing included four main components:

Fall Break DC Trip: During Fall Break 2012  students visited Washington D.C. and nearby Civil War Battlefields. They had tours of the  war  memorials on the National Mall, visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and their archives, compared the battlefield National Parks at Gettysburg and Antietam, and visited with peace activists and a representative of the U.S. Institute of Peace. In Spring 2013,  students also met with several speakers brought to Hendrix to focus on war memory and creative ways to build peace and reflected on these components.

LBST 300:  Dr. Leitz taught this class in Spring 2012 with the help of Drs. Sprunger and Vernon. In this class each student produced a work of original interdisciplinary research that explores how people remember war and/or peace work, focused on a topic of the student’s choice. The majority of the writing occurred during the capstone seminar course in the spring. The presentation and paper based on this research formed the majority of the grade for LBST 300, but there were several reflection essays due based on Crossing experiences and additional readings in the area of Peace, War, and Memory. 

"Past Obsessions: World War II in History and Memory"

Dr. Carol Gluck, a renowned historian of Japan at Columbia University, gave a public talk at Hendrix on Thursday, February 21. Drawing on examples from Europe, Asia, and North America, her talk explored how public memory operates in contemporary societies and how entrenched national war stories change—or do not change—over time. 

Warrior Writers and Combat Paper Project: The Warrior Writer Project assists veterans in literary expressions of the experiences, and the Combat Paper Project helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans turn their personal war material, such as uniforms and manuals, into blank books for their literary works (see images below). Drew Cameron, an Iraq war veteran; Jan Barry, a Vietnam veteran; and Sara Nesson, a Oscar-nominated documentary film director, participated in a series of events on their experiences with the projects, exploring the relationship between literary expression and physical and emotional recovery. During the weekend of April 17, Hendrix College and the Arkansas Literary Festival hosted a warrior writers’ workshop, a papermaking workshop, film screenings, and panels. Students assisted the faculty in the logistics, preparation, and programming and wrote a reflective essay on the experience. Click here for a video of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Panel exploring the relationship between literary expression and physical and emotional recovery from with Drew Cameron, an Iraq war veteran; Jan Barry, a Vietnam veteran; and Sara Nesson, an Oscar-nominated documentary film director, will participate in a panel discussion.

Crossing Learning Goals

1)      Increase knowledge about past and current wars and peace movements

2)      Consider how memory or our interpretation of past wars, peace movements and treaties, and notions of heroism on the battlefield shape modern life

3)      Understand how literature and other cultural products shape our understanding of past and present wars and attempts at peace

4)      Develop a deep interdisciplinary understanding of the formation and consequences of collective and individual memories of peace and war 

5)      Become aware of the living memory of past American wars and peace movements in the Washington, D.C. area

6)      Conduct a significant research project on issues related to peace, war and memory.