The Faculty of Education and Society at the University of Sunderland
5 - 6 April 2014
Keynote Speaker: Kate Adie

This three-day international conference will explore the impact of this first truly global war on the history, culture, philosophy, language and politics of the 100 years following it.

Papers are invited from the international scholars' community in English in a wide a range of disciplines – history, politics, world literatures, philosophy, sociology, human geography, media, critical and cultural studies, international law, linguistics, colonial and postcolonial studies.

The 'Great War' is often regarded as a watershed in both western and global experience: the first war to involve mass mobilisation of forces across Europe and the involvement of every stratum of society; the first participation of the USA in a European war; the first adoption of new and formidable weapons mobilised without the consideration of civilians; the first deployment of colonial forces in Europe; the first pursuit of global warfare on every ocean; the first time a European war was fought in Africa; the first mobilisation of women for war production, and their engagement in medical services for the fighting everywhere; and the first unprecedented deployment of new technology in the form of submarines.

The aftermath of World War I heralded a new world order. The Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires collapsed. Successful revolutions in Russia and Turkey took place alongside failed revolutions in Germany and Hungary. The United States rose from a regional to an international power. As Hobsbawm has said, "[i]f there was a moment when the nineteenth-century 'principle of nationality' triumphed it was at the end of World War I". This had ramifications both for nationalism in Europe and for the non-western world. New nations emerged in Europe and the Middle East, and challenges to the racial order were felt throughout the world. Changed perspectives and political ideals everywhere followed in its wake.

The conference will focus on the legacies of the First World War, its impact on literary, critical, cultural and philosophical imaginaries in the West and abroad, as well as politics, international diplomacy and attitudes towards conflict. Unlike the Second World War, the transformative power of the event remains vague in the minds of many contemporary observers. Whereas the poetry of British war poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen continues as canonical in Britain, few films, apart from the pacifist classic All Quiet on the Western Front explore the war’s global impact.

How has the Great War been represented, for example, in the literature and film of the former colonies such as Kenya and India, and in the Middle East? What is the place of the Great War in different collective memories? In what ways did it stimulate both the principle of nationality and the processes of globalisation?

We hope to attract scholars from a wide range of disciplines as we seek to explore the many cultural, historical, political and theoretical contexts of the Great War. A selection of papers will be published.

We will be interested in paper proposals that address the following themes, but invite any relevant to the subject of the legacies of the Great War:

  • Filmic and literary representations of World War I
  • The importance of the Great War in triggering the acceleration of the processes of globalisation
  • The changing status of women in Britain and abroad in the 100-year aftermath of the Great War
  • The First World War as race war
  • The Communist challenge in the interwar period
  • The triumph of ‘the principle of nationality’
  • The Great War, the Middle East and Islam
  • The Great War, sovereignty and transboundary networks
  • Modern warfare since the Great War
  • The changing role of the Great War in the British imagination in its 100-year aftermath
  • The role of technology in the Great War and its aftermath
  • The Great War, decolonisation and postcolonialism
  • The philosophy of war since the Great War
  • Teaching the Great War in Britain over the past 100 years

If you wish to contribute a paper, please submit a proposal (maximum 300 words) to:

Dr Kathleen Kerr-Koch, [email protected]
Faculty of Education and Society
Priestman Building
Green Terrace

Proposals should be submitted no later than 30 October 2013.

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