Professors to discuss Afghanistan war experiences

Conway, SC - CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University professors Paul Olsen and Ken Townsend will present a program called "Shadows of War" at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24 at the University's Waccamaw Higher Education Center in Litchfield. The event is free and open to the public.

The talk is part of the "Culture & Crisis" community dialogue series led by University faculty. The series is sponsored annually by the Board of Visitors of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

Olsen, professor and chair of the Department of Visual Arts, and Townsend, professor and chair of the Department of History, were embedded with soldiers in Afghanistan in 2007. They interviewed and photographed soldiers on location in Kabul and Kandahar, resulting in a series of public lectures and a photographic exhibition.

Two years later, Townsend and Olsen re-interviewed six of the soldiers at stateside locations. At this session, they will briefly summarize their original work and present selected follow-up interviews using slides and video clips.

The discussion will address how these soldiers are coping with their wartime experiences, as well as the imprint of their service on their loved ones through individual, anecdotal and personal stories.

Olsen has exhibited his photography regionally, nationally and internationally. He has worked as art director and creative director for various advertising agencies in Connecticut and New York, as well as freelance design work in Miami. He taught at Mississippi University for Women and Columbia College in Missouri before moving to CCU where he established the photography program. He also is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War and has photographs on permanent exhibit at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum.

Townsend is a specialist in mid-20th century American social, military and cultural history and is the author of "World War II and the American Indian," a book nominated for several national awards including the Pulitzer Prize. He also published "South Carolina: A History." He has authored a university-level textbook on Native American History with Prentice-Hall, which will be released in summer, and he is completing a book on the South Carolina home front during World War II.

For more information, contact Sherry Crawford at 843-349-2421.

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