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Program aiming to help veterans by reading the classics will kick off with inaugural lecture Aug. 20

Marshall University will present the inaugural lecture Friday, Aug. 20, of “The Wars Within, The Wars Without,” a program designed to help connect veteran students at Marshall with veterans from throughout the state of West Virginia. The lecture, titled “Stoicism as a Philosophy for Modern Life,” will be presented by Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, who serves as the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy and the chair of the Department of Philosophy at City College of New York.

It is planned for 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, in Room 402 of Drinko Library on the Huntington campus. It also can be attended virtually via www.marshall.edu/warswithin. The lecture is free, and all are invited to attend, in person or online.

“The Wars Within, The Wars Without” is a program with the goal of connecting veterans on campus and throughout West Virginia through a series of public discussion groups in which participants will read and discuss classic texts about war, to help veterans reflect on their experiences. New Fall 2021 courses geared toward veterans and military-connected students aim to help them cope with traumatic experiences and explore the history of war.

The program will be co-directed by Marshall faculty members Dr. Christina Franzen, an associate professor of classics, and Dr. Robin Riner, a professor of anthropology.

In explaining how veteran students can benefit from literature such as Lucan’s Civil War, Franzen also quoted Cathy Caruth, author of Literature in the Ashes of History: “For these stories of trauma cannot be limited to the catastrophes they name, and the theory of catastrophic history may ultimately be written in a language that already lingers, in these texts, after the end, in a time that comes to us from another shore, from the other side of disaster.”

“When we asked a veteran of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom), our former student, ‘Why read Civil War?’ he referred to the book as a bridge — from his experience as a combat soldier to his experience as a student, from ancient Rome to now, and from his inner world to the outside one,” Franzen said. “He spoke of the absurdity of Lucan’s text, that it reminded him of when he was with his buddies overseas during his three deployments, and how absurd and inappropriate they were with one another — and still are — when they get together.”

The program is sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council; Marshall University’s Hedrick Teaching Innovation Grant, Drinko Academy, College of Liberal Arts, and Academic Affairs; and the Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative of the Society for Classical Studies.  For more information, visit www.marshall.edu/warswithin.