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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

NEH Grant to Support

The William Joiner Center recently received a grant of $180,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop, test and implement a web-based curriculum on the Vietnam War.

The primary goal of the project, titled Understanding the Vietnam War, is to make material from the Joiner Center’s Vietnam archives available to students as well as to the public in a framework that can foster greater understanding of the war. Nguyen Ba Chung, a research associate at the Joiner Center, says that this project will offer an important but previously unexplored perspective about the war, that of the Vietnamese as well as Americans. While other sites may offer information from a Vietnamese viewpoint, the Joiner Center scholars are able to draw upon their long history of engagement with Vietnamese writers, poets and scholars dating back to 1988, six years before relations between Vietnam and the United States were normalized, to provide a nuanced depiction of the war from many participants in the conflict – among them soldiers, artists and women.

The Joiner Center archives, housed in the archive of UMass Boston, contain both Vietnamese and American documents related to the war, including about 200,000 items belonging to both North and South Vietnamese revolutionaries fighting U.S. forces in Vietnam, as well as photographs and films about the war. The new curriculum will draw upon the thousands of pictures, personal interviews, and literary sources to address the concerns that high school teachers have expressed about finding sources that are valuable for classroom use. Kevin Bowen, director of the Joiner Center, sees the project as growing out of the collaboration among high school teachers, university faculty, and scholars who have participated in the Vietnam Institute, an annual summer program coordinated by Joiner Center researcher Paul Atwood.

Consultants working with the Joiner Center on this project will include Steven Cohen, a curriculum specialist for the PBS production, Vietnam: A Television History and two historians, Prof. Marilyn Young of New York University and Prof. George Herring of the University of Kentucky. Young is a well-known and respected expert in East Asian history, while Herring, the author of a comprehensive history on the war, is an acknowledged expert on the Vietnam War. Young has authored The Vietnam War, 1945-1990 and Herring authored America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam (1950-1975). A team of high school teachers will act as advisors on the project. It will be headed by Joiner Center Director Kevin Bowen, Paul Atwood and Nguyen Ba Chung.