Outside the Wire is a multi-format humanities project that highlights the narratives and experiences of American veterans throughout the country’s history of conflict. Supported in part by an Action Grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, this project includes generative writing workshops for the veteran community in South Jersey and Philadelphia led by national nonprofit Warrior Writers; an annual public program featuring conversations between recent veterans and writers/scholars/curators whose work intersects with issues of concern to veterans and service members, and other program formats. 

During the 2020-21 project cycle, Outside the Wire will explore the impact of service on veterans’ families: both individual family experiences and the military family unit more broadly. 

During the past two years, this project has also incorporated Letters Home, an exhibit exploring the significance and history of letters and other communications sent by service-people to their loved ones during global conflict. 

Learn more about this project’s programs below or sign up for our email list to hear updates. 

Writing Workshops 

Facilitators from national nonprofit Warrior Writers facilitate a series of free, generative writing workshops for veterans and active duty service members.

The first two workshops in the 2020-21 cycle will take place on December 14, 2020 and January 30, 2021. Learn more and sign up here.

Sign up for our email list to receive updates on future workshop dates and other events in this series. 

Public Programs 

Each year, our public program places veterans, writers, scholars, and curators in conversation around a theme of importance to veterans and active duty service members. Some highlights: 

In 2017, veteran medics and nurses were in conversation with Professor Jane Schultz (IUPUI) and Professor Tyler Hoffman (Rutgers-Camden) about the comparative experiences of contemporary medical professionals in the military and those of writers like Walt Whitman and Louisa May Alcott during the Civil War. 

On November 14, 2018, Andrew Carroll, director of the Center for American War Letters, delivered a lecture about the history and significance of war letters, followed by a conversation between Mr. Carroll, Army veteran Joe Nygard, and his mother Nancy. 

In January 2020, veterans Nicky Castro and Mike Miller were in conversation with journalist Helen Benedict and curator/historian Samuel Black about the unique experiences of marginalized groups in the service, including women and service members of color. 

On March 25, 2021, poet Jehanne Dubrow and anthropologist Gala True will join veteran speakers to discuss the impact of service on veterans’ families. Learn more about this event. 

Family Retreats 

During the 2020-21 project cycle, we will hold two retreats for veterans and military family members to provide space to reflect on service experiences, the return to civilian life, and the changes service members and families have experienced to their relationships. Retreats feature workshops in creative writing, visual arts, wellness, and archival skills to help participants tell the stories of their family artifacts. 

Our second family retreat will take place on June 19, 2021. Learn more and register. 

Learn more about our first family retreat. 

Veterans’ Families, Veterans’ Selves Digital Exhibit 2021: Call for Submissions 

In 2021, we are seeking veterans, active duty service members, and/or family members to co-curate a digital exhibit that sheds light on families’ experiences of service. Veterans, service members, and family members are invited to submit an object, document, or other artifact that represents or is associated with their family’s experience of service. Photographs of objects and documents will be featured in the exhibit accompanied by participants’ written or oral narratives about the artifacts and their relationship to participants’ experiences. 

To participate, please contact Leah Falk (leah.falk@camden.rutgers.edu) with the subject line “Outside the Wire Exhibit” and attach a photograph of the object or document you would like to share (image size minimum 2000 x 12000). Leah will communicate with you about the accompanying narrative. If you already have something written about the object or document that you would like to share, you may attach it; please limit written submissions to between 500-1000 words (.doc, .docx, .pdf or Google Drive links only). 

Deadline: June 15, 2021. 

Letters Home Digital Exhibit (2020)

This online exhibit features letters from three veterans with ties to Rutgers. Browse the letters and read these service members’ stories at https://writinghome.omeka.net/exhibits/show/lettershome