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NEH Summer Institute Schedule

image of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, with the Washington Monument in the distance at the center of the image.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington D.C.

Pre-institute preparation will include reading selections and viewing resources below:

  •  Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History 3rd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. This will be the only required text for the institute. Selections from other texts will be made available on the website in advance of the institute. 
  •  “Oral History Training Tools,” developed by Dr. Jason A. Higgins and Dr. Emily Hamilton:
  •  “OHA Principles and Best Practices,” Adopted October 2018, Oral History Association:
  •  Selections from Shay, Jonathan. Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming. New York: Scribner, 2002.


Week 1: June 19-24 (Blacksburg, VA)


Sunday, June 18


Participants arrive in Blacksburg. The project team will host a welcome reception for participants.


Monday, June 19 (Juneteenth)


Morning: We will commence with a welcome and introductions (faculty, staff, and participants), an overview of the institute and our schedule, and an orientation to facilities and resources. After the introductions, we will complete a group exercise as a gateway activity to oral history.


Afternoon: Dr. Higgins and co-directors will lead an introduction to oral history, a short history of the field, and guided discussion on critical topics (e.g., race, memory, and trauma). Through the selected readings below, participants will (1) explore how trauma affects memory and (2) discuss best practices in cross-cultural oral history interview settings.

Readings include selections from:


  • OHA Principles and Best Practices,” Adopted October 2018, Oral History Association.

  • Portelli, Alessandro. “What Makes Oral History Different,” The Oral History Reader, 3rd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2015), 48-58.  

  • Ritchie, Donald A. “Introduction,” from Doing Oral History 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 


Further reading recommendations: 

  • Selected essays from Donald A. Ritchie, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Oral History. New York: Oxford, 2011. 


Tuesday, June 20


Morning: Dr. Higgins will guide discussions on veterans’ oral history projects and digital collections, including (1) Louis B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky, “From Combat to Kentucky;” (2) Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida; and (3) History Makers: The Digital Repository for the Black Experience. In this session, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the field of oral history by comparing published narratives to digitized collections and analyzing the features of different media, including text, video, audio, and podcasts. We will discuss advantages and concerns with digitizing and making veteran oral history interviews public and accessible on the web. 


Readings include selected chapters from:

  • Appy, Christian G. Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides. New York: Penguin, 2004. 

Further reading recommendations: 

  • Estes, Steve. Ask & Tell: Gay & Lesbian Veterans Speak Out. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2007.

  • Stur, Heather M.  The U.S. Military and Civil Rights Since World War II. ABC-CLIO, September 2019.


Afternoon: Digital humanities specialists and technological experts, Corrine Guimont and Joe Forte, will lead a training session on affordable and accessible recording equipment, best practices for preservation, and digital formats to host oral history-related projects; they will then offer individual consultations with participants. 


Readings include selections from:

  • Boyd, Douglas, and Larson, Mary, eds. Oral History and the Digital Age. New York: Palgrave, 2014. 

  • Ritchie, Donald. “Setting Up an Oral History Project.” In Doing Oral History, (35-72).


Wednesday, June 21


Morning: Dr. Higgins will lead a series of activities on planning oral history projects. Participants will start developing lesson plans and assignment prompts, draft invitation letters to veterans in their communities, learn about informed consent, shared authority, and copyright, and write sample interview questions. The morning session will conclude with a practice oral history interview between participants. 


Readings include selections from:


  • Ortiz, Paul, “Tearing Up the Master’s Narrative: Stetson Kennedy and Oral History, The Oral History Review (2014) 41:2, 279-289, DOI: 10.1093/ohr/ohu027

  • Morrissey, Charles. “The Two-Sentence Format in Oral History Interviewing Technique,” Oral History Review 15:1, 43-54,

  • Ritchie, Donald. “Conducting Interviews” Doing Oral History (73-102).


Further reading recommendations: 

  • Anderson, Katheryn and Dana C. Jack, “Learning to Listen: Interview Techniques and Analyses,” in Oral History Reader, 3rd edition (179-192)

  • Browning Christopher R. “Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave Labor Camp,” from Oral History Reader, Third Edition, (311-19)

  • Llewellyn, Kristina R. and Ng-A-Fok, Nicholas, eds. Oral History and Education: Theories, Dilemmas, and Practices. New York: Palgrave, 2017.

  • Sheftel, Anna and Stacey Zembrzycki, “Slowing Down to Listen in the Digital Age- How New Technology Is Changing Oral History Practice,” The Oral History Review, 44-1 (2017): 94-112, DOI- 10.1093/ohr/ohx016

  • Strong, Liz H. (2021) “Shifting Focus: Interviewers Share Advice on Protecting Themselves from Harm,” The Oral History Review, 48:2, 196-215, DOI:10.1080/00940798.2021.1947144

  • Neuenschwander, John A. “The Legal Ramifications of Oral History,” in The Oxford Handbook of Oral History. Edited by Donald Ritchie. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 

  • Yow, Valerie. “Interviewing Techniques and Strategies,” In the Oral History Reader, 3rd Edition, edited by Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, (153-178)


Afternoon: Drs. Trevor Stewart and Jim Hill, our K-12 specialist, will lead collaborative workshops with the goals of writing assignment prompts, lesson plans, and consulting groups on integrating veterans’ literature into the curriculum. They will discuss key texts that are already part of K-12 curriculum and suggest supplemental texts that teachers could employ to meet their needs. 

Readings include individual poems and selections and excerpts from: 

  • “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” by Randall Jarrell 

  • “A Mystery of Heroism” by Stephen Crane  

  • “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty 

  • O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.


Thursday, June 22


Morning: We will host a roundtable discussion on writing, rhetoric, and composition, moderated by co-directors Dr. Jim Dubinsky and Dr. Trevor Stewart, with visiting speaker, Dr. Mariana Grohowski, and K-12 project specialist, Dr. Jim Hill. Discussants will offer advice on integrating veterans’ writing into the K-12 classroom and engage participants in a workshop on writing assignments and exercises which teachers can incorporate as part of their projects. 


Readings include selections from: 

  • Anderson, Laurie Halse. Impossible Knife of Memory. New York: Penguin Random House, 2015.

  • Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War. New York: Holt, 1977. 

  • Here, Bullet, by Brian Turner (Farmington, ME: Alice James Books, 2014).

  • “Hunting Civil War Relics at Nimblewill Creek” by James Dickey

  • “Facing It” by Yusef Kumunyakaa


Afternoon: Visiting speaker, Dr. John M. Kinder will lead a guided discussion on disabled veterans and cultural representations of veterans in American society through literature, music, films, and television. Afterward there will be a question-and-answer session on incorporating disability studies into the K-12 curriculum.  


Readings include selections from:

  • “Disabled,” by Wilfred Owen

  • Kinder, John M. Paying With Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 


Friday, June 23


Morning: We will host a veterans’ panel, featuring a group of Vietnam War-era and post-9/11 veterans (to be determined), who will discuss their memories during the military and their experiences readjusting to civilian society afterwards. Additionally, our visiting scholar, Dr. Galloway-Salazar will share her experiences in the Army from 2001-06 and discuss how those experiences shape her research and oral history work with women veterans in the post-9/11 era. She will be joined by co-directors Jim Dubinsky, Trevor Stewart, and K-12 specialist, Jim Hill. They will offer their insights into how their military experiences inform their teaching and their interactions with civilians. 


After lunch: Dr. Higgins and Dr. Galloway-Salazar will lead training workshops designed to prepare practitioners to conduct ethical oral history interviews with veterans and other survivors of traumatic experiences. We will have group discussions on key texts on trauma and veterans’ experiences. 


Afternoon: Dr. Higgins will model and record a live oral history interview with a military veteran in front of the institute, demonstrating best practices and interview techniques. 


Readings include selections from:

  • Thomson, Alistair. “Anzac Memories Revisited: Trauma, Memory and Oral History,” The Oral History Review, (2015) 42:1, 1-29, DOI: 10.1093/ohr/ohv010

  • Hagopian, Patrick. “Voices from Vietnam: Veterans’ Oral Histories in the Classroom,” The Journal of American History 87, no. 2 (2000): 593–601.

  • Caruth, Cathy, ed. “Interview with Robert J. Lifton,” in Listening to Trauma: Conversations with Leaders in the Theory and Treatment of Catastrophic Experience. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2014.


Further reading recommendations:

  • Caruth, Cathy. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. 

  • Cramer, Jennifer A. “First, Do No Harm”: Tread Carefully Where Oral History, Trauma, and Current Crises Intersect, The Oral History Review, 47 no. 2 (2020): 203-213, DOI:10.1080/00940798.2020.1793679

  • Gambone, Michael D. The New Praetorians: American Veterans, Society, and Service from Vietnam to the Forever War. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2021.

  • Shay, Jonathan. Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character. New York: Scribner, 1995.

  • ---. Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming, New York: Scribner, 2002. 


Saturday, June 24


Participants will spend the day enjoying Blacksburg and catching up on readings for the coming week. 


Sunday, June 25


Participants travel to Washington D.C. and check into rooms. 


Week 2: June 26-30 (Washington D.C. and Blacksburg, VA)


Monday, June 26


Morning: Participants will join Dr. Kara Dixon Vuic at the Military Women’s Memorial (MWM) at Arlington National Cemetery to discuss women and gender in the US Military from World War II to today. The staff at the MWM will offer a guided tour of exhibits and oral history collections at the memorial. Then participants will browse open access oral history interviews to incorporate in their classes. 


Readings include selections from:

  • Vuic, Kara Dixon. “Our First Sister: Lynda Van Devanter and the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Women’s Project,” in Service Denied: Marginalized Veterans in Modern American History. Edited by John M. Kinder and Jason A. Higgins (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2022). 

  • Vuic, Kara Dixon, ed. The Routledge History of Gender, War, and the U.S. Military. New York: Routledge, 2018.

  • Explore selected interviews from the Military Women’s Memorial Oral History Collections:


Further reading recommendations: 

  • Vuic, Kara Dixon. The Girls Next Door: Bringing the Home Front to the Front Lines. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Afternoon: Participants will have a guided tour of Arlington National Cemetery. Dr. Dubinsky will lead our discussion on remembrance, family military legacies, and bonds among veterans from different generations. Dr. Higgins will lead the group in discussions on the establishment of Arlington National Cemetery, the service of African American veterans in the Civil War, and the erasure of their contributions in national memory of the war after Reconstruction. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we will discuss the nature of total war in the First World War, memorialization, and the contradictory experiences of African American soldiers in the First World War as they fought for democracy abroad under Jim Crow at home.


Readings include selections from:


  • Bierce, Ambrose. “An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” 

  • Blight, David. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001. 

  • Bogan, Louise. “To My Brother Killed: Haumont Wood: October, 1918.”

  • Jones, Brock. Selections from Cenotaph, Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2016.

  • MacLeish, Archibald. “The Silent Slain.”

  • Owen, Wilfred. “Dulce et Decorum Est.”

  • Williams, Chad. Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 2010. 


Tuesday, June 27


Morning: Participants arrive at the Jefferson Building, Veterans History Project Information Center and Alcoves. We will meet the Veterans History Project staff in the VHP Information Center for a workshop on the VHP toolkit and collection display, followed by a question-and-answer session. Then, we will have a guided tour of the alcoves and technical discussions; VHP staff will conduct a mock interview in each alcove.


Afternoon: VHP staff will offer a guided tour of the Jefferson Building. Afterwards the group may choose to explore VHP collections further, discovering digitized oral history collections that they can use in their classes. They will work collaboratively to compile a list of resources for their classrooms. 


Readings include:

  • “Participate in the Project,” Library of Congress, Veterans History Project, accessed Feb. 2, 2022.

  • Sommer, Barbara W. Doing Veterans Oral History, A publication of the Oral History Association and the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. OHA Pamphlet Series, 2015.  

  • Ritchie, Donald. Doing Oral History, Chapter 6: “Preserving Oral History in Archives and Libraries” (161-191).


Wednesday, June 28


Morning: We will visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Dr. Higgins will lead a discussion on the Vietnam veterans’ movement, organized efforts to build the memorial, and politics of memorialization and legacies of the Vietnam War. Participants will discuss and compare a historical analysis of the memorial to a Vietnam veteran’s autobiography to understand both the national and personal context of memorialization. We will then hear from a Vietnam veteran, remembering their experiences after the war and reflecting on the memorial. 


Readings include selections from:

  • “At the Vietnam War Memorial” by Robert Dana 

  • Hagopian, Patrick. The Vietnam War in American Memory: Veterans, Memorials, and the Politics of Healing. UMass Press, 2009. 

  • Puller, Lewis B. Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet. New York: Grove Press, 1991. 


Afternoon: We will explore the Washington Mall with guided discussions on national war memorials, monuments, and memory. At the World War II Memorial, Dr. Dubinsky will lead a discussion on war poetry and literature. The participants will compare popular memory of WWII to veterans’ first-person accounts, oral histories, and uncensored surveys of American soldiers during the war. 


Readings include selections from: 

  • Terkel, Studs. The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. (any edition) New York: Pantheon, 1984. 

  • Gitre, Edward J.K. et al. The American Soldier in World War II, Virginia Tech, 2021: Accessed January 4, 2022.  

  • “World War II Poets: A Selection of Poets who Served in the Largest Conflict in Human History,” The Poetry Foundation, accessed January 4, 2022:


Further reading recommendations: 

  • Phillips, Kimberley. War! What Is It Good For?: Black Freedom Struggles and the U.S. Military from WWII to Iraq. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 2012. 

  • Rosales, Steven. Soldados Razos at War: Chicano Politics, Identity, and Masculinity in the U.S. Military from World War II to Vietnam. University of Arizona Press, 2017.


Thursday, June 29


Morning: Thursday will be a time for reflection. Participants may visit a place of national or cultural significance (e.g. the Native American Veterans Museum; The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial; the National Museum of African American History and Culture; the Smithsonian Museum of American History; the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; or the National Air and Space Museum) to reflect, write, and make plans for the coming year before either returning to Blacksburg or departing to the airport. They consider how these institutions represent veterans’ experiences, whose voices are centered, how veterans’ history is interpreted, and what lessons may be applied in their class assignments. 


Afternoon: the vans will transport the group back to Blacksburg.


Friday, June 30


Morning: Participants will give short presentations that showcase their ideas and concluding thoughts from the institute. Groups will share collaborative work, lesson plans, materials, and ideas for the coming academic year. 


Afternoon: We will enjoy refreshments and the co-directors, K-12 specialists, faculty, and visiting speakers will offer closing remarks and thoughts of appreciation.