Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Communication Studies and Philosophy
The question of “how do we actively remember the past?” can perhaps best describe the purpose of public memory studies. Acknowledging this question, I analyze popular public-school textbooks to assess the way in which educational literature constructs the public memory of the Vietnam War. In total, the narratives of the texts construct a public memory of Vietnam as a controversial conflict contained within a decade of American uncertainty. However, these narratives also take care to minimize or leave aside the details of Vietnam’s lasting impact and in favor of reaffirming American exceptionalism. Ultimately, this thesis finds that students who read these texts will walk away with a view of Vietnam as a small note of erring in the otherwise consistent American story; an event that does not detract from the United States’ exceptional legacy.
Owens, Donnie, "Vietnam Continued: The Battle for American Public Memory in Public School History Textbooks" (2022). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Spring 1920 to Summer 2023. 8522.
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