History and Art History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Meredith H. Lair

Meredith H. Lair

Meredith H. Lair

Associate Professor

The Vietnam War, war and American society, veterans, collective memory, consumerism, militarism, conflict tourism, American social history

Prof. Lair's work examines warfare and its relationship to American society and culture, with particular emphasis on how knowledge and memories of the past are constructed and disseminated over time. She is the author of Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War, which examines the non-combat experiences of American soldiers in Vietnam. She finds that the US military relied heavily on consumerism and material abundance to maintain soldier morale, a phenomenon that continues to the present day. Her research on this topic continues, especially the role that culture can play as an instrument of war. Her current projects examine Vietnam War soldier photography  and legacies of the Vietnam War, in particular how ideas about veteranhood have been constructed and changed over time. Prof. Lair also developed content and wrote the exhibit script for the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation’s Vietnam Era Educational Center, the first permanent museum about the Vietnam War in the United States.

Prof. Lair's teaching interests include war and American society, post-1945 US social and cultural history, the Vietnam War, and historical methods. She also serves as director of the Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) Master's program.

Current Research

The [In]Visible Soldier: Vietnam Veteran Activism and the Militarization of America. In progress.

Shot in Vietnam: American Soldiers Document Their Vietnam Wars. In progress.

Selected Publications

"The Education Center at The Wall and the Re-writing of History," Public Historian, Winter 2012.

Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam WarUniversity of North Carolina Press, 2011.

“Red Coat Theater: Negotiating Identity in Occupied Philadelphia, 1777-78,” in Pennsylvania’s Revolution, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010.

Grants and Fellowships

Minerva Research Fellow, United States Naval Academy, 2013-14

Courses Taught

HIST 120: Why We Fight

HIST 300: Introduction to Historical Method

HIST 370: War and American Society

HIST 377: The Vietnam War

HIST 389: Veterans in American History

HIST 389: Legacies of the Vietnam War

HIST 499: Senior Seminar in History

HIST 615: Buy American: Consumption in 20th Century America

HIST 677: The Vietnam War

HIST 679: War and Remembrance

 

Education

PhD, History, Penn State University, 2004

BA, History and Theater, Ohio University, 1994

Recent Presentations

"Constructed & Contested: History, Memory, & the Vietnam War," Minnesota Humanities Center, 2016

"Soldiering in Vietnam: An Alternative View," Baker Peace Conference on "The Vietnam War: A 50-Year Retrospective," Ohio University, 2015

"State of the Field: Military History," Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, 2015

"Classroom Taboo: Teaching the [Un]American Way of War Using the Smithsonian’s 'The Price of Freedom' Exhibit," Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, 2015

"The Business of War: Production, Consumption, and Destruction, 1860-2013," Roundtable, Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, 2013

"What is the Price of Freedom?: A Critical Exploration of Militarist Narratives at the National Museum of American History," Roundtable, American Studies Association Annual Meeting, 2011

"A Cause Lost and Won: Renegotiating Victory in the Memory of the Vietnam War,” Society for Military History Annual Meeting, 2010

"Mr. Tien's Battle Scars: Authenticity as Commodity in American Vietnam War Tourism,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, 2009

"Ice Cream in the Tropics, Dessert in the Desert: Refining War in Iraq and Vietnam,” American Studies Association Annual Meeting, 2008

 

In the Media

BuzzFeed.com, "Is Hollywood America's Best Truth Teller on Iraq?", 20 March 2013

C-SPAN American History TV, coverage of HIST 389: Legacies of the Vietnam War, air date 10 November 2012

"Easy Living in a Hard War: Behind the Lines in Vietnam," Military History Quarterly, 2 May 2012.

C-SPAN Book TV, on Armed with Abundance, aired 16 October 2011

Dissertations Supervised

Kirklin Bateman, Project 100,000: New Standards Men and the U.S. Military in Vietnam (2014)

John Lemza, Tracing American Exceptionalism During the Cold War: American Military Communities in West Germany, 1946-1990 (2014)