THE CENTER FOR THE LIBERAL ARTS AND THE ARTHUR VINING DAVIS FOUNDATIONS
ARE PLEASED TO OFFER A SUMMER INSTITUTE
JULY 11-17, 2010
The Vietnam Tapes: The Presidential Recordings of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon
This Summer Institute will be limited to 15 participants
This colloquium will explore the Vietnam War through the once-secret White House tapes of the presidents who waged it. With the aid of scholars from the Miller Center ‘s Presidential Recordings Program, historians of the war, and curriculum specialists, participating teachers will have front-row seats at some of the most consequential decision-making episodes in recent American history, offering them opportunities to deepen their knowledge of the Vietnam War and to devise innovative strategies for teaching it in their classrooms.
The topics to be covered speak to some of the most enduring questions of the war. Why did the United States become so enmeshed in Vietnam ? What was President Kennedy’s role in the coup that toppled—and killed –South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem? Was Kennedy committed to withdrawing American troops from the region? What precisely did President Johnson know about the Tonkin Gulf incident when he asked for a congressional mandate to prosecute the war? How did Johnson’s private thoughts and public actions influence his decision to escalate American involvement? How did the American media shape the nation’s conduct of the war? How did President Nixon square his desire to withdraw U.S. troops and still maintain the combat effectiveness of South Vietnamese forces? And finally, how might we—as scholars, teachers, and students—come to terms with the legacy and meaning of the Vietnam War, including its lessons for conducting counterinsurgency today?
To help answer these questions, readings for the colloquium will include some of the best contemporary scholarship on the United States in Vietnam, including William Hammond’s Reporting Vietnam (1998), Fredrik Logevall’s The Origins of the Vietnam War (2001), Robert Mann’s A Grand Delusion (2001), and Lewis Sorley’s A Better War (1999). Some of these same scholars will also be lecturing at the institute and engaging the participants in daily discussions, giving teachers a chance to increase their own knowledge of Vietnam, strengthen their command of the material, and create novel learning activities for use in the classroom.
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Question: What do you hope to learn from this course? How do you plan on applying that learning to your classroom teaching?