Thomas Conroy, Castleton State College’s department chair of communication and professor, is coming out with a new book. The book, titled ‘Constructing America’s War Culture,’ will be hitting the shelves by the end of November or the beginning of December. Conroy has worked at Castleton State College for 16 years, and has been working on the book for almost two years, and was a little leery about talking about it before its publication.
“I am superstitious about talking about it until I see it in print,” he said, touching his mustache in his office that’s surrounded by piles of paperwork a mile high.
‘Constructing America’s War Culture,’ according to the index, is a collection of essays that discusses how the media has “packaged” the current war in Iraq. Conroy worked on this book with several other professors from around the country, and more specifically Jarice Hanson, a professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts.
When asked about Castleton State College’s support of professors producing publications Conroy said, “Castleton likes professors to come out with publications, yet the extraordinary heavy load of classes and committee service made it difficult to produce a publication.”
Conroy did say the college had helped out by giving him a sabbatical and honoring him as the Castleton State College Honorary Fellow. Academic Dean Joe Mark said he knows of the time constraints on professors that Conroy had mentioned.
“I am impressed when faculty can produce a publication in spite of timely commitments. Teachers are expected to do committee service and be advisors … Castleton puts teaching first, therefore we do not have high standards for professors to produce publications,” Mark said.
Mark, knowing about the constraints on professors, seemed impressed at Conroy’s dedication to produce a publication.
“He is an advisor that cares about the whole student, not just what they are doing in class. He is great addition to the community and I can’t wait to see it,” Mark said.
The book is about 180 pages long and covers a broad selection of subjects. Some include Jessica Lynch, the analysis of movies that have come out about Sept. 11, as well as the Bush administration and how it dealt with covering up aspects of the war in Iraq.
“It’s about different cultural and social factors that encourage us to support war,” Conroy said.
He went on to discuss some of the factors that encourage us to support war and mentioned the term “NASCAR dads.”
“War participation helps “NASCAR dads” from feeling left behind in society.
“An example: Women who do well academically can help them feel left behind, instead of blaming it on corporations who outsource their jobs and leave them behind, they blame it on women, minorities, and liberals,” Conroy said.
Conroy gave insight into the book by discussing the essay about Jessica Lynch.
“Most people did not perceive it to be what it was, she was taken prisoner and sent to the hospital; it was staged . She hasn’t been victimized just by the Iraqi’s; she has been mostly victimized by military public relations.”
When asked if he would categorize the book as being liberal, Conroy said, “I’m not trying to force any one point-of-view on anyone. I’m hoping it opens up a wide range of ideas. There are a couple of articles in there that almost anyone could relate to.”
According to Conroy, the book was created for college students.
“The book is aimed at college juniors and seniors. I’m hoping that it encourages students to discover their ideological positions,” he said.
Castleton State College student Matt Kimball was able to get a special preview of the book when Conroy assigned one of the articles for homework in class. Kimball is a senior at Castleton State College majoring in communications and has taken several courses from Conroy. The article discussed some popular movies that had been produced to show certain perspectives on the events of Sept. 11.
“It was marvelous; you don’t think to talk about it (referring to Sept. 11) because it was so recent. It was not a positive image of Hollywood. When the historical perspective is taken out of the movies it makes me think people are trying to capitalize on it,” Kimball said.
Kimball also showed his appreciation and admiration for Conroy by saying, “Conroy is really intelligent and cares for his students, he is not just here for a paycheck.”
When asked if he was excited about the book, Kimball said, “I really am excited, I want to read the whole thing!”
Conroy is hoping the book will be carried in the Castleton State College book store and hopes to have seminars on it in a couple of years. Although compared to Kimball and Mark, Conroy’s excitement for the book varied.
“I have real mixed emotions about the book. I’d rather that it not be so marketable and that the war would be over. I’d actually rather that there was no need for the book and it could sit on the shelf collecting dust versus the war continuing,” he said.