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. This year supported in part by a COVID-19 Response 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 a digital exhibit co-curated by veterans themselves. 

During the 2021-22 project cycle, Outside the Wire will explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the military community. How has the pandemic intensified the isolation many veterans already feel? How has it inflected or triggered memories of trauma from their service experiences? How have veterans participated in or benefited from the swell of mutual aid and community action that have colored the last two years? 

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. “Generative” means that writers in these sessions produce brand-new writing in the moment; there’s no need to have work ready to share before hand. In 2021-22, some of these workshops will take place virtually. They are open to any veteran or active-duty service member. 

2021-22 Workshop Schedule 

December 11, 2021, 1 – 3 pm EST.

January 22, 2022, 1 – 3 pm EST. 

March 12, 2022, 1 – 3 pm EST. 

April 9, 2022, 1 – 3  pm EST. 

May 21, 2022, 1 – 3 pm EST. 

See writershouse.camden.rutgers.edu/events for individual workshop listings and to sign up. 

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 joined veteran speakers to discuss the impact of service on veterans’ families. 

In 2022, writer and military spouse Simone Gorrindo, Syracuse Veterans Writing Group co-leader Eileen Schell, Army Special Forces veteran Peter McShane, and Army veteran Nick Morgan gathered to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the military community and the process of storytelling about the pandemic. 

Watch the 2022 panel below. 

Veterans Respond to COVID-19: Digital Exhibit Launch (2022)

Veterans Respond to COVID-19 gathers the testimonies of three veterans who discuss the impact the pandemic had on their service and return to civilian life. View their artifacts and responses here. 

Curation: Matthew Midgett 

Exhibit Design: Lucy Davis 

Soldiers’ Stories Digital Exhibition (2021) 

Soldiers’ Stories is a digital exhibition that is an online extension of the Outside the Wire project, utilizing photographs, typed letters and poems, and official military documents to tell the stories of several veterans serving in several branches of the Armed Forces, as well as their family members. Veterans contributing to this exhibition were stationed in various locations of military campaigns during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

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

Outside the Wire is supported by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

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