Conference Program

85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky

Title: Teaching and Researching the Vietnam War in the Wake of Burns & Novick's Film "The Vietnam War"
Abstract: As America continues to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a new film series by the famous documentarians Ken Burns and Lynne Novick has drawn the attention of the American people. Vietnam veterans are commenting with both anger and appreciation, anti-war activists have criticized the degree to which their involvement has been memorialized, and Vietnam War scholars have written articles and op-eds, both positive and negative, on the historical accuracy of the film.

This roundtable will discuss the impact of this series on how we teach the Vietnam War, and how our ability to conduct research will be affected. We have assembled two generations of Vietnam War scholars, all of whom are active in teaching and writing about Vietnam: Dr. James Willbanks, a Vietnam veteran served as an advisor on the film "The Vietnam War." His focus on the panel will be the challenges of writing scholarly books when you have experienced the subject. Dr. Ron Milam, a Vietnam veteran, and a contributor to the New York Times recent series "Vietnam '67" will discuss the challenge of teaching the Vietnam War as the most popular course at an institution housing the world's largest non-governmental archive. Dr. James Sandy, an instructor at the University of Texas, Arlington where he is developing a minor in military history, will focus on teaching the Vietnam War for the first time as students believe they "know it" from the Burns-Novick series. "Carie" Uyen Nguyen, a Vietnamese Ph.D. student who recently published an op-ed in the New York Times, "Whose War Was It?", will discuss how the Burns-Novick film has perpetuated numerous inquiries by Vietnam veterans by e-mail, phone and social media about her research on American soldiers' attitudes toward the ARVN. Rob Thompson has written on pacification and will offer comments as moderator.
Ron Milam, Texas Tech University
James Willbanks, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
Robert Thompson, Public Radio International
Uyen Nguyen, Texas Tech University
James Sandy, University of Texas - Arlington

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