NEA Big Read at UCF • April 1 – June 4, 2020

A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA Big Read: Central Florida broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. This year the NEA Big Read: Central Florida is pleased to partner with the University of Central Florida’s Veterans Legacy Program to celebrate The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.


NEA Big Read: Central Florida returns to UCF Celebrates the Arts!

NEA Big Read is part of UCF Celebrates the Arts 2020, the university’s 6th annual showcase of creativity, innovation and collaboration at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Join us for several events in Dr. Phillips Center’s DeVos room.

APRIL 18, 3–6 PM • Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Back to the Future: Rethinking Veteran Homecomings in the Twentieth Century
Bruno Cabanes, Director of the War and Society Program at Ohio State University, delivers the Big Read keynote lecture.

Staged Reading
Theatre UCF students read scenes inspired by Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

Veterans Project Showcase
Check out projects created by the Veterans Legacy Program and UCF Community Veterans History Project. UCF’s Veterans Legacy Program is a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration to extend the memorialization of veterans and learn about U.S. history through student-led research about veterans buried in our national cemeteries.

Art Exhibition
View a collection of artworks inspired by the novel by UCF School of Visual Arts and Design students.

Precarious Memory: Artists Respond to War

April 30 – June 4, 2020 • UCF Art Gallery

In addition to the exhibition of student artwork inspired by the novel at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2020, there will be an exhibition in the UCF Art Gallery:

Inspired by Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (1990), a classic work of American literature and ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, and redemption, “Precarious Memory: Artists Respond to War” features work by Klara Hammond, Kevin Haran, Dr. Charles Smith, and Jave Yoshimoto that responds to the experiences of war. A catalog featuring an essay by Dr. Barbara Gannon, author of The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic, will accompany the exhibition.

Background image of soldiers marching in Vietnam

“They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity.”

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried


Connect with the community by joining a book club! Seminole County Public Library adult book clubs will read and discuss The Things They Carried. The discussions are free and open to the public.

Central Branch Library (Casselberry) – Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. or Wednesday, April 15 at 10 a.m.

East Branch Library (Oviedo) – Wednesday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. or Tuesday, April 14 at 1 p.m.

West Branch Library (Wekiva/Longwood) – Wednesday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m.

North Branch Library (Sanford) – Wednesday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. or Wednesday, April 22 at 10 a.m.

Northwest Branch Library (Lake Mary) – Tuesday, April 28 at 12:30 p.m.

West Branch Library (Wekiva/Longwood) – Wednesday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m.
(This non-fiction book club will discuss The Body Keeps the Score by Bessa van der Kolk as a complimentary title to The Things They Carried.)