About the Program

The Wars Within, The Wars Without is a program designed to help connect veteran students at Marshall University with veterans from throughout the state of West Virginia through a series of public discussion groups in which participants will read and discuss classic texts about war. Discussion leaders (DLs) will be competitively selected to lead the discussion groups and participate in other program activities. DLs will be offered a stipend for their participation.

The program relies on Lucan’s Civil War as the central text, supplemented by memoir, fiction, poetry, and works from philosophy, history, religious studies, and anthropology, to explore the project themes of destruction and regeneration, the vexed nature of military heroism, the soldier-body, and connections and divisions among soldiers and civilians. Through sustained discussion, the project aims to help military veterans, active-duty military, and members of the public reflect on contemporary war and its aftermath by making connections among three primary conflicts: the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terrorism. We aim for the comparison of conflicts across time and space to help bridge the experiences of veterans of earlier conflicts, who make up a large percentage of the WV veteran population; veterans of recent and ongoing conflicts; and active-duty military.

The program involves the following three stages:

  • A three-day preparatory program, held August 18-20, 2021 on Marshall’s campus*, for veteran discussion leaders during which they will explore Civil War and other humanities texts about war and train in tools and methods for discussing the humanities, as well as methods for facilitating discussion among veterans with a diverse range of experiences.
  • A semester-long seminar that integrates Lucan’s Civil War with other humanities texts about war and will serve as a mentoring opportunity for the DLs to receive guided practice in facilitating discussion groups.
  • Five public discussion groups for veterans and the general public, in which participants will read sections of Civil War and engage in sustained discussion about the text, drawing connections to their own experiences. Two of the groups will involve veterans and military friends and families, three of the groups will be veteran-only.

There will be a variety of public talks associated with the program held throughout the year, featuring speakers including Massimo Pigliucci, Lauren Ginsberg, and Brian Powers. See the public talks link for the full schedule of speakers.

This program is generously supported by grants from the WV Humanities Council, a Marshall Hedrick Program Grant for Teaching Innovation, and a Classics Everywhere Grant from the Society of Classical Studies.

*If COVID regulations prohibit on-campus gatherings, the program will be conducted virtually.