The National Endowment for the Humanities is awarding a $99,772 grant to the Central Arkansas Library System for a two-year project involving veterans. Fiction and Fact: a War Dialogue with Veterans is to begin this fall. Arkansas Literary Festival director Brad Mooy says the program will recruit about 45 veterans to participate in discussions on books and media that delve into issues of war and military service.
“We’ll be reaching out to the VA, to the Air Force base, to the National Guard, many different military-based or military-related organizations to let them know about the program,” he says.
The first programs are set to begin in the fall of 2016. Participating veterans will be encouraged to contribute to a personal blog as a way of sharing reflections on war-related literature, art and film. The project will bring in nationally-recognized humanities scholars and writers to speak at public events and to train the veterans’ discussion group leaders.
Alex Vernon, a professor of English at Hendrix College, is the project director. He says one goal of the program is addressing the widening gap between the military and civilian life.
“Fewer and fewer families have relatives who have served or are serving. And that knowledge gap is as great as it’s been in the 20th century, I think,” he says. “Closing that gap in whatever modest ways we can is a good thing.”
He says the program hopes to attract “any and all” applicants with a military background.
The project will include public events at the 2017 and ’18 Arkansas Literary Festivals, as well as war-related film screenings and discussions at the library’s Ron Robinson Theater. The NEH awarded CALS one of 17 national grants for the program.