Dennis Woytek

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2009


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Calvin Troup

Committee Member

Richard Thames

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz


Public, Memory, Vietnam, Veteran, Memorials


The narrative relationship of a group of Americans who served in the Vietnam War is the focus of this dissertation. This group is unique to veteran groups that have returned from serving their country in a time of war or conflict. My research is based on the rhetorical writings of recognized scholars, a knowledge base grounded in the historical tradition of rhetoric. Research is also included from interviews and correspondence with many Vietnam veterans, the writings of novelists and archive material provided by the Department of Defense, the United States Navy, and American Forces Radio and Television. This dissertation addresses questions of memory concerning emerging communities of memory among Vietnam-era veterans and will approach an emerging narrative from a rhetorical foundation in the philosophy and theory of memory. In part, the study will address the relationship between public memory and the challenges of ever-changing technology, a technology that makes possible public memory on several perspectives.

There are driving forces that are motivating narrative stories of Vietnam veterans from across the country to participate in public memory. This conversation and discussion between veterans propels the textual writings and oral narratives that are created when memory of the veterans is driven by the conversation of a historical moment. These historic moments or reunions are now becoming more frequent and are being attended by larger numbers of Vietnam veterans every year. Interpretive research into these memory forms will produce a knowledge base sufficient to contribute to the scholarly work on memory, public memory and the community of memory. Additionally, the work may enrich the ongoing discussions among Vietnam veterans, their friends, and loved ones as well.