Conference Call for Papers and Panels
“1968 and the Tet Offensive”
April 27-28, 2018, Lubbock Texas
The Vietnam Center and Archive (VNCA) and the Institute for Peace & Conflict (IPAC) at Texas Tech University are pleased to announce a conference focused on the year 1968 and the Tet Offensive. We expect in this conference to approach these historical events in the broadest possible manner by hosting presenters who examine diplomatic, military, international regional, and domestic aspects of the Vietnam War during that year, as well as the strategic and tactical decision-making and actions that led up to and followed the Tet Offensive. This will include presentations that look at all participants to include the US, RVN, DRV, NLF, and the numerous allies and other nations involved. We will also strongly encourage presentations that examine the antiwar and peace movements at home and abroad, the efforts to support the war effort, and the efforts to end the conflict through international diplomacy, as well as military and diplomatic means in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Recent and emerging scholarship on the Tet Offensive and on 1968, more broadly, is refocusing much needed attention on some of the pivotal events that took place during that fateful year. In late November 1967, General William Westmoreland publicly conveyed his optimism regarding eventual US victory in Vietnam, helping President Johnson to buoy flagging US popular and political support for the war effort. In the aftermath of the Tet Offensive, as fighting broke out in every major city throughout the entirety of South Vietnam, many started to doubt the veracity of those previous claims, including prominent politicians and members of the American media. Attention within the US came to focus on some of the more brutal battles that emerged as US Marines fought to retake Vietnam’s ancient Imperial city in the Battle for Hue and they came under heavy fire during in the Siege of Khe Sanh. As the fighting intensified in Vietnam, so it did in the streets and on campuses across America, as critics of the war continued their calls for an immediate US withdrawal and an end to the war. So powerful was the effect of these events that on March 31, President Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection – adding to the leadership changes already in play with the departure of Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense in late February and the emergence of General Creighton Abrams and departure of General Westmoreland as commander of US forces in Vietnam in June. The violence that year included some of the most horrific wartime atrocities committed against civilians in Vietnam, including the Hue Massacre and the My Lai Massacre, while violence in the US claimed the lives of nationally prominent figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. The presidential election that year witnessed last-minute attempts by the Johnson administration to end the war in Vietnam sabotaged by the Nixon campaign. By the end of 1968, approximately 550,000 Americans engaged in more than 200 major combat operations, dropped more than 500,000 tons of bombs, and the overall financial costs of the war for that year alone totaled approximately $20 Billion. 1968 resulted in the highest numbers of casualties in a single year with more than 16,000 Americans and approximately 100,000 Vietnamese killed on all sides. All the while, the North Vietnamese and NLF fought on. With a new president and leadership team preparing to take over in January of 1969, innumerable questions remained as to whether a US victory could be achieved in Vietnam.
This two-day conference will be hosted at the MCM Elegante Hotel and Suites in Lubbock, Texas. Conference organizers welcome both individual presentation proposals as well as pre-organized panel proposals that include a moderator/commentator and three individual presentations. Conference sessions will follow the standard 90-minute format to include 60 minutes for presentations (20 minutes per presentation) followed by 30 minutes for questions and discussion. Presentations by veterans are especially encouraged as are presentations by graduate students. Graduate student travel grants will be made available to select students. All presentations will be video recorded and made publicly available after the conference via the Vietnam Center and Archive website. Select papers may also be published in a collection by the TTU Press.
Proposal submission deadline is February 15, 2018. Please submit a 250 word abstract and separate two-page CV/resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. The program committee of Ron Milam, Steve Maxner, Justin Hart, Dave Lewis, and Laura Calkins will evaluate all paper proposals and develop a program that reflects the many remarkable aspects of 1968. If submitting a panel proposal, please include separate abstracts for each proposed presentation and CVs/resumes for each speaker.
Thank you for your interest in participating in this conference.