an initiative at Virginia Tech
FOURTH VETERANS IN SOCIETY CONFERENCE
Veterans, globalized: veterans and their societies in international perspective.
26-28 March 2018
Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center
Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Abstracts of research
Literature and media: evolving understandings
Tuesday, 2:00-3:15. Wilson Room
Disrupting veteran stereotypes through literary fiction
D. Alexis Hart
Traditional-aged college students (18-24) often lack personal connections to the U.S. military (Taylor). Regrettably, this disconnect often means that students default to narrow stereotypes about veterans formed through their exposure to popular media. In this presentation, I will discuss how I make an effort to help the college students in my Introduction to Literature course “disrupt their expectations” (Kidd and Castano) and to “do better” at “making a serious effort to imagine” (Klay) post-9/11 veteran experiences by reading and discussing literary texts about the Global War on Terror.
I contend that when students read post-9/11 literary fiction written by veterans, non-veterans, and non-American authors, they can productively move past clichéd stereotypes about military service and begin to seriously consider the ways in which they, too, are implicated in a culture of war.
After Iraq: poetry in the community medicine cabinet
Kristin G. Kelly
University of North Georgia
Opportunities to read and discuss complex and meaningful poetry should exist in every community and in the Veterans Administration hospitals and local vet centers as well. Pain can be mitigated through the use of poetic metaphor, as Patrick S. Foley clearly shows in his extensive literature review of the metaphors veterans use when seeking pain relief.
Formal implementation of meaningful and sustained arts therapy must be sped up to reach the waves of veterans returning from multiple deployments to the forever wars. Combat trauma can be difficult to treat without a range of art and medicine from which to choose. The human mind and heart at work with words and each other has a sacred place in keeping a soldier on this side of the grave.
Gender and race in war literature: women’s military stories of the twenty-first century
While a common event of Western literature about war in the 20th and 21st century is combatants discovering an underlying kinship with their enemies, in It’s My Country too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan, ed. Jerri Bell and Tracy Crowe (2017), the “other” is more distinctly other. Women who go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq — themselves “other” to many of their male counterparts — record the identities of those they fight against in a way that reflects evolving American concepts of gender, ethnicity, and cultural heritage. Their voices alter established ethnic stereotypes as they define new solidarities and explore potential social transformations for the future.
“You will see and smell and feel it all”: technology and moral injury in Black Mirror
University of Alaska Southeast
The concept of moral injury has inspired a considerable body of literature within various regions of clinical psychology, psychiatry, and theology. Moral injury themes have likewise surfaced in contemporary popular culture, some of which dwell on the possibility that traumatic memory might be neutralized. In several contemporary texts, technology and psychological/psychiatric authority collude to obscure perception and interfere with the capacity to recall the past.
This paper examines one of these texts, an episode of Black Mirror that features American soldiers deployed against humanoid monsters. In this episode, one soldier’s perception of the conflict — falsely adulterated by a neural implant — disintegrates, subjecting him to catastrophic distress as he realizes the truth about the mission with which he and his comrades have been tasked. His trauma is compounded and ultimately reinforced rather than alleviated by the very same authority figures entrusted with his care.
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