Through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Governors State University has been awarded a second prestigious grant that allows the university to explore and study how war is commemorated in the humanities. With a special emphasis on literature and the visual arts, the grant - written by Drs. Rosemary Erickson Johnsen and Andrae Marak of the College of Arts and Sciences - is one of only thirteen awarded by the NEH in 2018 for the Dialogues on the Experience of War program. That program is part of a broader NEH initiative titled Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War, an initiative which seeks to "support advanced research in the humanities that explores war and its aftermath; promote discussion and deepened understanding of the experiences of those Americans affiliated with the armed services, whether active duty or veterans; and support returning veterans and their families."

 War Memory and Commemoration in the Humanities

Through the grant, students at GSU have been given a unique opportunity to examine veterans' individual memories of war as well as commemoration in collective or communal space.  This year's course  offers strong ties to World War I and will feature programming in conjunction with Veterans Day 2018. This year's Veterans Day marks the centenary of the end of World War I, and it was the World War I armistice which gives us the November 11 date on which we observe Veterans Day.  The NEH grant allows the university to sponsor several events on campus and throughout the regional community:

Please check this page frequently for updates on events and programming.

NEH February Town Hall  

  NEH Veteran's Day events 2018(1)

NEH Guest Lecture - 2018 - James Tallon

NEH grant recipient logo
About the grant authors
Dr. Rosemary Johnsen teaches upper division and graduate courses in Literature and Popular Culture.  Visit her web page,, for more information on her research.

Dr. Andrae Marak is a professor of History and the Dean of Arts and Sciences.  Click here for more information on his research.  

  • War Memories and Commemoration in the Humanities


    Regional and national news and information about the War Memories and Commemoration in the Humanities grant:

    - CAS Dean, Andrae Marak, shares insights about his experiences with NEH Dialogues on the Experience of War grants, in this American Historical Association Member Spotlight.


  • War, Trauma, and the Humanities


    War, Trauma, and the Humanities Events:

    Patrick Russel
    "War and Trauma"
    November 6, 2017
    Join Patrick Russell, founder and director of The Making History Project, for a discussion of soldier's stories, from the coast of France to the Middle East.
    Inspired by a visit to Omaha Beach in Normandy, France in 2010, Russell collects oral histories of veterans and archives them with the U.S. Library of Congress.  Through his work, he gives veterans an opportunity to talk about the ways in which their experiences of combat have affected them while preserving their stories for future generations.  Russell plans to expand the project to include stories from the Korean War, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well.

    A Reading by R.M. Ryan
    November 14, 2017
    Join poet and memoirist R. M. Ryan for a reading from his memoir, There's a Man With a Gun Over There, an autobiographical novel based on his military experiences.
    An antiwar activist while in graduate school, Ryan received a draft notice after the Tet Offensive in 19683. Opposed to the war, he considered moving to Canada until an army recruiter promised him a place in a German language class at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.  When he graduated as a translator, he was sent to Military Police School, a decision that kept him physically out of harm's way but caused severe and unexpected emotional consequences.
    About his book, Ryan offers: "All of us men with guns were pretty scary ... even scarier is the realization that most of the people who come through the American military are trained killers.  These people are your neighbors.  They're your relatives ... We need to face up to what we're doing, both to peasants in the Third World and to our own children."

    Veterans Speak: A Town Hall Event
    Hosted by Kevin Smith, GSU Director of Veterans Affairs
    December 4, 2017
    Five student veterans, along with Professors Rosemary Johnsen and Andrae Marak,  lead a discussion on how engaging war-related humanities sources enables veterans to make connections with their own experiences and to help others better understand war's impact on those who serve.
    Regional and national news and information about the War, Trauma, and the Humanities grant:

    New GSU Program Enlists Arts to Combat PTSD
    Alumna Creates Course to Offer Better Understanding of War Experience
    National Endowment for the Humanities Grant Awards and Offers

    Veterans Act as Team Leaders in Discussions About War, Trauma, and the Humanities During the Dialogues on the Experiences of War Course 

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