Vietnam War Representations in American Culture - Submission Deadline September 30, 2015

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

This roundtable provides an opportunity to reflect on the representation of one of America's most unpopular and violent wars of the twentieth century: the Vietnam War. In particular, this roundtable will investigate the role of collective memory and artistic representation of this highly politicized and casualty-laden war. A plethora of popular films depict the sheer violence and traumatic effects of the war: Apocalypse Now (1979), Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987), and Jacob's Ladder (1990), while the fiction written by soldiers-turned-authors, such as: Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried (1990), Phillip Caputo's A Rumor of War (1977), and Larry Heinemann's Paco's Story (1986), attempt illustration and explanation of the fear and anxiety of fighting the war and negotiating its battle conditions. Aside from the literature and fiction of the war, we also still live among the veterans, who continue to shape and inform our collective memory of this historical event.

Topics for this roundtable may include: the role of memory in the literature of soldier-authors, the artistic representation or re-imagining of the war in mainstream film adaptations, and the intersection of memoir writing with the historical record, including Vietnam War memorial sites. It is hoped that panelists will engage in conversation among each other and audience members on such questions as: What sticks to our collective memory of Vietnam? How do we represent such a war that necessitated a new term for trauma (PTSD)? How have popular representations of the Vietnam War elucidated or complicated our understanding of this war?

Interested participants can upload abstracts to the NeMLA database and user-based system at: