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NDSU's Project Unpack to host author presentation

Posted on 10/24/2016

NDSU's Project Unpack is scheduled to host "The Legacies of War Trauma within the Family," a lecture by author Tom Bissell, Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Beckwith Recital Hall.

Bissell has written nine books and he has been awarded the Rome Prize and a Guggenheim fellowship. As a journalist, he reported on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Project Unpack is an NDSU effort to collect oral histories of veterans and their families. It is funded within a $201,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Christina Weber, associate dean of faculty development in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and an associate professor of sociology, is leading the project that also will establish an archive for use by the public and researchers.

According to Weber, Bissell will discuss his experiences growing up with a Vietnam veteran father, who has experienced war trauma. Bissell's book, "The Father of All Things," traces his journey with his father to Vietnam and in his lecture, Bissell will reflect on that experience and his desire to help his father move beyond the trauma.

"My hope with this lecture is that the community can better understand how families make sense of and react to the trauma that their loved ones have been exposed to," Weber said. "I hope that other families of veterans can see how important their story is to our understanding of the legacies of war and how part of unpacking the effects of war includes listening to the stories of family members, particularly how they relate to their loved ones who have experienced war."

Bissell's presentation is part of a total project called "Project Unpack: Telling Stories, Creating Community: Understanding the Legacies of War at Home." The project also includes:

A program where the community is invited to read and discuss a book related to the legacies of war.

Writing and ceramics workshops for veterans and their families.

A series of public forums and programs that allow veterans and families to share their stories and creative work with the community.

Other NDSU faculty members working on the project are Alison Graham-Bertolini, assistant professor of English and women and gender studies; Angela Smith, assistant professor of public history; and Michael Strand, professor and head of visual arts.

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