An East Carolina University faculty member has received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of almost $65,000 to work with student veterans over a two-year period.
Dr. Anna Froula, associate professor of film studies, designed a two-week Soldier to Scholar bridge program to bring together war scholars and student veterans who will begin their studies at ECU this fall.
Froula’s team includes fellow English department faculty members Dr. Andrea Kitta, associate professor of multicultural and transnational literature, and Zack Perkinson, U.S. Army veteran and teaching instructor, as well as Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of ECU’s Student Veteran Services, and Dr. Jonathan Vincent, assistant professor of English at Towson University.
As part of the program starting Aug. 7, Froula’s team will cultivate discussions about war experience through the study of humanities texts with 15 new student veterans. Participants will study works including World War I poetry and novels, films from World War II and the Iraq war and the soundtrack from “Hamilton: The Musical.” Topics will include memory and memorialization, gender and war, homecomings, military folklore and veterans’ narratives, and representations of veterans in popular culture. An orientation component will focus on the transition from military culture to university culture and prepare participants for academic success.
“This class will provide incoming student veterans with an amazing opportunity to start their education at ECU in a supportive environment surrounded by their peers,” Jablonski said. “But, more importantly, it provides time to unpack their military experience in an accessible and supportive manner.”
Out of 73 proposals to the NEH’s Dialogues on the Experience of War program, 15 were funded including a second award of almost $98,000 to ECU that Froula worked on this July in Saipan with project director Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, associate professor of history in the maritime studies program, and Dr. Anne Ticknor, associate professor of literacy studies in the College of Education. Both proposals, part of the NEH’s Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War initiative, raise questions about civilian obligations to service personnel, the necessity of understanding veteran experiences, and wars and their aftermaths. The initiative stresses the importance of the humanities in working through the experience of war.
Froula’s research encompasses veterans’ stories and their representations in popular culture. Most recently, she co-edited a volume on television series about war. She is the granddaughter of a World War II veteran, the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, and the cousin of an Iraq War veteran. Since 2015, she has served as the faculty sponsor of ECU’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America—the Pirate Veterans Organization.
“As a citizen, I am concerned about how few public conversations we have about our veterans, the wars in which they fight and our responsibilities to them when they return,” Froula said. “I am excited to develop this program and to help facilitate a supportive learning cohort that will support each other and fellow veterans throughout their time at ECU.”
“With her research background in the representations of war service, trauma and returning veterans in popular culture, and her record of service with veterans here at ECU, Dr. Froula is the ideal facilitator for this important new program,” said Dr. Marianne Montgomery, chair of the ECU English department. “I am thrilled that the NEH recognizes the central role of the humanities in helping veterans unpack the experience of war, and I look forward to welcoming the first Soldier to Scholar cohort in August.”
NEH reviewers of Froula’s proposal remarked on the potentially profound impact for participants and the suitability of ECU as a hosting university, given its ongoing support of student veterans through its Student Veterans Services office. Since launching the Standing Together initiative in 2014, the NEH has awarded more than $7.7 million for humanities projects that serve veterans and help them share their experiences.
For more information about the ECU English department, visit http://www.ecu.edu/english/.
For more information about Student Veterans Services, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-studentaffairs/studenttransitions/studentveterans/.
Contact: Dr. Anna Froula, 252-328-6663, FROULAA@ecu.edu