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Professor Honors Vietnam War with Photo-Essay  

Black and white photo of a helicopter in Vietnam during the war

Image courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Hoffman

Professor of Communication Dr. Kenneth Hoffman commemorated Veterans Day through a photo-essay presentation of his Vietnam War photographs accompanied by dramatic readings of comments from Vietnam veterans and their families on November 15, 2018.

Having served as an Army Lieutenant in Vietnam from June 1969 to June 1970, Hoffman documented the war with camera in hand and later published his photographs as a website where over two million visitors from 50 countries offered around 5000 comments and personal reminiscences from the wartime.

The presentation featured a video of his Vietnam street photographs accompanied by pre-recorded dramatic readings. Open to all Seton Hall University faculty, students and staff, the presentation provided an incredibly moving, first-hand look at the war through impactful images and perspectives.

Black and white photo of a Vietnamese child during the war

Image courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Hoffman

"The collection of photographs were not posed, nor do I believe they were influenced by the camera's presence… I was struck most by the inner dignity of the people of Vietnam, a dignity seemingly stamped into the very structure of their faces – in the face of the outward poverty into which the war had forced them," commented Hoffman. "I sought to capture the agony that the military presence there inflicted upon the people of Vietnam."

Robert K. Brigham, Professor Vietnamese History at Vassar College, has praised Hoffman's work for its presence as a powerful reminder of how important photographers were to telling the story of the Vietnam War.

The video presentation, accompanied by its recorded commentaries, is available for viewing here. Please be advised of some explicit language.

From Sunday, December 9, 2018 until Wednesday, January 2, 2019 thirty of Hoffman's street portraits and photographs will also be on display during an exhibition titled, "A Salute to Veterans and Vietnam" at The Gallery Space in Rahway, New Jersey.

Black and white photo of Vietnamese man during the war

Image courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Hoffman

Artist's Statement: 
While the Vietnam War has been described as the most photographed war in history and has been dubbed "The living room war," the culture of Vietnam and the lives of its people during this time was not recorded to the same extent. My photographs take the point of view of the photographer as observer discovering the people of Vietnam in the midst of their war-torn country. As an Army Lieutenant working for the Department of Defense as a photographer and film director, I sought whenever possible to go beyond the war itself—to record the people whose inner dignity showed through the circumstances into which they were forced. Among my most haunting recollections are the faces of the street children (Bui-Doi or "Dust of Life") and their soulful stares. I have attempted to preserve this aspect of the war lest it might be forgotten—to all our losses.

Categories: Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Danielle Clements
  • (973) 275-4831
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