Ione and Wayne Bennion Seminar for the Perpetuation of Democratic Principles
2024 Bennion Teachers’ Workshop
Objects of War: How Material Culture Helps Us Remember and Study Modern Conflict
What can material objects such as the mundane helmet, a religious text a soldier carried, or a postcard sent from war zones reveal about the experience of twentieth-century war? The 2024 Bennion Teachers’ Workshop will explore this question, using the First World War, the Second World War, and the Vietnam War as case studies. Wars are moments when democratic norms are at their most vulnerable as they upend the structures of politics, economics, and everyday life alike.
While historians of war traditionally rely on texts to understand past conflict, this interdisciplinary teacher’s workshop focuses on the material culture of modern war. We will examine how objects connect us to past events, places, and experiences. Given the diversity of participants in the military, we will showcase the intersectional identities of veterans in terms of age, class, gender, race, and place of origin. A fuller understanding of the participation of civilians and combatants in America’s modern wars through a study of material culture (objects and artifacts) alongside conventional historical texts enables us to appreciate how such conflicts shape our society and the American experience.
Interactive activities, field trips, hands-on workshops, and lectures with prominent scholars, museum educators, and public history practitioners will allow participants to:
- Learn how to locate and define innovative historical sources including material objects and oral histories,
- Use innovative sources including material culture and oral history in community-focused classroom projects,
- Develop skills with digital tools and archives that focus on material objects and oral history,
- Engage with public-facing history and its role in shaping new perspectives of the past,
- Acquire a nuanced understanding of war and its legacies which is vital to being a fully informed democratic citizen.
2024 Workshop Information
Dates: Monday, June 24 - Friday, June 28, 2024; Welcome Dinner - Sunday, June 23rd (encouraged but not required)
Time: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM daily; and two additional evening events
Place: Utah State University, Logan Main Campus, Logan, Utah (Merrill-Cazier Library - Room 101)
Lead Scholars: Molly Cannon, Assistant Professor of Anthropology - USU, Executive Director Museum of Anthropology - USU, Co-Director of the NEH-funded Bringing War Home Progect (2021-2023) and Susan Grayzel, Professor of History - USU, Co-Director of NEH-funded Bringing War Home Project (2021-2023)
Application and Registration
Apply to enroll in the workshop
Scholarships and Awards
Limited scholarships and travel awards
Variable credits and requirements
Meet the Lead Scholars and Presenters
Sun: Welcome Dinner
EVENING EVENT - 6:00 p.m. Utah State University, Logan, Utah. Attendance is strongly encouraged but not required.
Monday, June 24: Introduction to Material Culture
- Session 1: What is Material Culture?
- Session 2: Guest lecture with Zara Anishanslin
- Session 3: Bringing War Home Digital Archive: Engaging with Objects
- EVENING EVENT - Keynote Public Lecture with Zara Anishanslin (FREE and open to the public - 5:00 p.m., Library - New Book Lounge-2nd Floor)
Tuesday, June 25: Material Culture Goes Big: Memorials, Landscape, and Public History
- Session 1: The First World War and the Creation of War Memorials
- Session 2: Memorials Guided Walking Tour on USU Campus and in Logan
- Section 3: Lunch Lecture on Public History with Nichelle Frank
- Session 4: Virtual Tour of the National World War I Museum & Memorial in Kansas City
- Session 5: Designing a Memorial: Collective Project
Wednesday, June 26: Telling War Stories with Digital Humanities
- Session 1: The Second World War and Writing the Past via Oral Histories
- Session 2: What Makes a Good Digital Archive?
- Session 3: Story Mapping: Hands-on Workshop
- Session 4: Smithsonian Educator Workshop
- EVENING EVENT: Tour, Talk and Dinner at the Nora Eccles Art Museum
Thursday, June 27: Visiting the Past: Museum and Memorial Field Trip
- Tour and Educators’ Workshop at the Hill Aerospace Museum
- Visit the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall Replica in Layton
Friday, June 28: The Things They Carried: Oral Histories and Object Stories
Workshop Location, Meals, Lodging, Parking, and Books
Location: The workshop will be held on USU - Logan Campus. (Merrill-Cazier Library - Room 101)
Time: A continental breakfast will be available each day beginning at 8:30 a.m. The workshop will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, with two additional evening events.
Meals: Continental breakfasts, lunches, and evening events are included as part of enrollment in the course. There are many dining options available close by in Cache Valley for your evening meals.
- Reservations at the University Inn on USU Campus may be made directly on a space available basis.
- Several off campus lodging options are available in Cache Valley.
- If you are driving to campus each day, you may email email@example.com and request a dash pass for the RED or BROWN lots. The pass will be emailed for you to print out and place face up on your dashboard so it can be easily read in order to avoid a parking ticket.
- Daily parking is also available in the Big Blue Terrace, Aggie Terrace, or Gateway Terrace at hourly or daily rates, payable as you exit, with no in/out privileges.
Books: There will be required readings for the course. The articles to be read prior to the workshop will be available on CANVAS. You can purchase the required book on your own or through the USU Bookstore on the Logan campus.
- Required Book:
1. Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried. (Mariner Books, 1990)
"As a teacher from a rural area, I really appreciate that Bennion is a world-class opportunity that provides scholarly interaction with top-notch students and excellent professors from multiple universities and institutions across the country."
"I love the intense one-week format of Bennion."
"Scholarly engagement with world class professors provides a rich experience"
"Critical for expanding my ability to grow as an educator."
"The only weakness was that the magic had to end, but we will take the magic with us."