Professor Lair’s work examines warfare and its relationship to American society and culture, with particular emphasis on how knowledge and memories of the past are constructed and disseminated over time. She is the author of Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War, which examines the non-combat experiences of American soldiers in Vietnam. She finds that the US military relied heavily on consumerism and material abundance to maintain soldier morale, a phenomenon that continues to the present day. Her research on this topic continues, especially the role that culture can play as an instrument of war. Her current projects examine Vietnam War soldier photography and legacies of the Vietnam War, in particular how ideas about veteranhood have been constructed and changed over time. Professor Lair also developed content and wrote the exhibit script for the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation’s Vietnam Era Educational Center, the first permanent museum about the Vietnam War in the United States.
Professor Lair’s teaching and research interests include war and American society, post-1945 US social and cultural history, the Vietnam War, veterans, and war memorials. She also serves as director of Mason’s Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) Master’s program.