Archives de catégorie : Le centenaire de la Grande Guerre

Call for papers “Initiations? First Moments in the First World War”

International Conference organised at the Péronne Historial, France
30th June – 2nd July 2014

Download this call as a .pdf

In November 2011, the Research Center of the Péronne Historial organised a conference on the anticipation of warfare before 1914. For the 1914 Centenary, the Center is now preparing a conference on the unanticipated: how did contemporaries make sense of the primordial experiences that marked the conflict and shaped its representations?

Beware Marc Bloch’s caveat regarding “embryogenic obsession”! We do not seek to argue that the First World War was necessarily a foundational experience for its participants. Proposals are encouraged to question the very concepts of “primordial experiences,” “first times,” and “initiations.”

“Gas mask, helmet type, canvas with metal fittings and glass eyepieces, British, 1915”, digitised collections, Science Museum London,
“Gas mask, helmet type, canvas with metal fittings and glass eyepieces, British, 1915”, digitised collections, Science Museum London,

Papers are not restricted to that which was truly “new” during the First World War; proposals might instead attempt to understand the emotions and sensations as felt for the first time by contemporaries.

We must look beyond 1914, past societies’ and soldiers’ baptisms of fire, to apply the “first time” as a historical tool to better understand the First World War experience.

The Western Front is only one theater among many; proposals are encouraged to examine these concepts on other fronts and from various comparative perspectives. Multi-disciplinary approaches, also encouraged, might draw from anthropology, psychology, or law.

Conference themes

1. Initiations

This panel addresses foundational experiences and the other kinds of “initiations,” broadly defined. Linked to the war’s environments, these might include: training soldiers; baptisms of fire; discovery of the battlefield; re-learning the injured body… Initiations need not be restricted to 1914, and might include experiences linked to the introduction of gas and tanks. Works of military history are welcome, including proposals related to primary groups and learning curves.

2. Movements

The second session examines the spatial and social meanings of “the first time,” and includes both physical and mental experiences of displace-ment. Papers might address how individuals adapt to new surroundings—in spaces real or imagined.
Collective experiences of displace-ment in wartime (for e.g mobilization, desertion, strategic troop movements, exodus, or deportation) might be approached as social histories on various levels of analysis.

3. Separations and encounters

Relationships between individuals are central to the conference; papers might address how these rapports were refashioned by war. Proposals might focus on separations between lovers, friends, family members, colleagues… or on encounters that helped build wartime identities. First contacts are central: experience of occupation, meetings between allies, commerce of all kinds… Papers might focus on linguistic, social, political, or religious encounters. Transnational perspectives are particularly encouraged.

4. Senses and emotions

This panel is based on a history of emotions and senses—first blood, first tears, first fear, first smells. In other words: first contact, physical or psychological, with war and its violent nature. How were these events felt and described? Papers need not be limited to the manifestation of emotions; proposals might instead pay particular attention to the narratives written by this history. The influence of period literature, medicine, psychology, and military science might be considered.

5. Interpretations

The final panel will investigate how contemporaries constructed wartime narratives. Proposals might recall the early forms of commemorative language and early museographic attempts. Papers are encouraged to place these early interpreatations within the wider political, social, ideological, and economic discourse of the interwar period.

Envelope that contained mobilisation orders for the French army, Historial collections
Envelope that contained mobilisation orders for the French army, Historial collections

Scientific Advisory Board:

The members of the directory board of the International Research Center of the Péronne Historial act as the scientific advisory board for the conference.

Organising Committee:
Nicolas Beaupré (UBP Clermont, IUF), Franziska Heimburger (EHESS), Benoît Majerus (Université du Luxembourg), Manon Pignot (Université de Picardie, IUF), Emmanuel Saint-Fuscien (EHESS), Alexandre Sumpf (Université de Strasbourg), Gene Tempest (Yale), Arndt Weinrich (German Historical Institute Paris) and for the CIRHGG its director Caroline Fontaine.

Photo credits for the header/footer: Jean-Pierre Gilson

Your proposal may be submitted in English or in French (the two working languages of the conference) by email to by 30th May 2013. Please include a proposal of max. 500 words and a brief academic CV.

Vidéos Conférence Kansas

Le colloque qui s’est tenu récemment au musée national américain de la Première Guerre mondiale à Kansas (évoqué dans plusieurs billets ici) trouve une suite en ligne avec la mise à disposition de quatre conférences :

Annette Becker “How to Commemorate a 100-year-old Tragedy”

Michael Neiberg “The Outbreak of War in 1914: A New Look at an Old Problem”

Sophie de Schaepdrijver “Military Occupations in Europe, 1914-1918”

Vejas Liulevicius “The Eastern Front Experience in the First World War”

Le centenaire vu des États-Unis

Nous évoquions dans un billet récent le colloque qui s’est tenu à Kansas du 22 au 24 mars 2013. Mike Neiberg, un des historiens invités pour y donner une conférence nous a écrit un texte sur son interprétation de l’approche du centenaire aux Etats-Unis que nous co-publions ici avec le site de la International Society for First World War Studies :

I recently had a rather surprising discussion with a European-based editor who told me that, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I notwithstanding, he was reluctant to sign any more books on the war. He was, he told me, afraid that by 2016 or 2017 European readers would be tired of reading about the war. His comments took me aback, given the general lack of interest American publishers have been showing in the war. Two different American publishers have recently told me that they, too, do not want to sign World War I books, but, unlike their European colleague, they were not worried about reader fatigue. They were worried that general American indifference toward the war would lead to poor sales.

In light of those discussions, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that the United States is far behind Europe in its planning for the centenary. Besides America’s usual lack of interest in the war, in 2013 we face a government sequester that has blocked access to even modest resources and distracted attention even further from plans to educate citizens about the war. Unlike Great Britain, there has been no sustained effort in the United States to dedicate money or show support from the highest levels of government. The federal government has made clear its opposition to the construction of a World War I memorial on the National Mall, and the post office has agreed to issue a commemorative stamp, but otherwise little of substance has yet come out of Washington. The United States Senate has tasked the White House with forming a twelve-person commemorative committee, but the committee still does not exist. A distracted Congress has really only made one important decision: designating the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City to be the lead organization for commemoration activities.

In late March, the museum hosted a conference dedicated to beginning the commemorative process. Given the general lack of support and interest it faces, the challenge could be formidable. Nevertheless, the museum has a talented staff, a fantastic venue, and an international reputation that make it a logical choice to lead the commemoration. It is likely to do so, however, with little to no federal money. Thus this conference had two goals: to share ideas and to create networks of people interested in commemorative efforts.

Given the lack of governmental interest, much of the support for educational and outreach efforts will have to come from the private sector and from dedicated groups like the Western Front Association and the American Friends of Blérancourt, as well as the wide variety of museums and libraries planning local commemorative projects. Notably, much of the energy for this American conference came from Europe, including the assistance of the government of Flanders and the participation of the French and German consulates, as well as the Alliance Française.

The conference brought together academics, government officials, private citizens with an interest in the war, and representatives of organizations like AFS Intercultural Programs that trace their origins to the war. It will likely take an effort of all of us pushing together to build momentum if we are to take maximum advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to commemorate, educate, and explain. Otherwise we face one of two futures for the centenary, and both are typically American. In the absence of hard work, resources, and planning, Americans will either ignore the war or make a flurry of activity in 2017, cobble something together quickly, then claim victory. The choice is ours.

Shedding Light on “A Century in the Shadow of the Great War”

National World War I Museum, Kansas City
National World War I Museum, Kansas City

Du 22 au 24 mars, le National World War I Museum de Kansas City, qui est depuis 2004 le « musée officiel » de la Grande Guerre pour les États-Unis, organise un grand colloque sur le thème Shedding Light on “A Century in the Shadow of the Great War”. Cette conférence, doit être l’occasion d’un retour historique et historiographique sur l’influence de la Grande Guerre sur le siècle. Mais elle a également pour but selon le vœu des organisateurs et de leurs sponsors – notamment le gouvernement de Flandres – de faire un premier bilan prospectif international sur le centenaire de la Grande Guerre qui s’annonce. 125 participants issus de 7 pays différents participeront aux débats, parmi lesquels Michael Neiberg, Vejas Gabriel Liulevicus et Sophie de Schaepdrijwer.

Annette Becker, Vice-présidente du Centre International de Recherche de l’Historial de la Grande Guerre et Professeure à l’Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre fera la conférence d’ouverture sur le thème : “How to Commemorate a 100 Years Old Tragedy”

Sur Twitter vous pouvez suivre la conférence sous le hashtag suivant : #WWIcentconf. Le compte twitter du musée de Kansas City : @theWWImuseum

Présentation de l’encyclopédie 1914-1918-online à Paris

Unknown photographer, Etricourt, Soldier between detroyed buildings, black-and-white photograph, 1916-1918, source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 104-0608A, wikimedia commons
Unknown photographer, Etricourt, Soldier between detroyed buildings, black-and-white photograph, 1916-1918, source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 104-0608A, wikimedia commons

Dans le cadre de son cycle de conférences « La guerre au XXe siècle », l’Institut historique allemand accueille, le lundi 25 mars à 18 heures, pour une présentation publique de projet, l’équipe de l’encyclopédie en ligne « 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War ». Ce projet, impressionnant par sa dimension et son ambition, constitue sans doute le plus important projet scientifique du côté allemand à être réalisé en vue du centenaire.
La manifestation, comprenant une présentation général du projet (Oliver Janz, Freie Universität Berlin), une conférence sur les mérites de l’histoire globale de la Première Guerre mondiale (Jennifer Keene, Chapman University) et une intervention d’Élise Julien (IEP Lille) portant sur la coopération transnationale au quotidien, se déroulera en anglais et en français. La quasi-totalité des membres du comité éditorial (Alan Kramer, Trinity College Dublin ; Bill Nasson, University of Stellenbosch ; Heather Jones, London School of Economics ; Peter Gatrell, University of Manchester ; Jennifer Keene, Chapman University ; Oliver Janz, Freie Universität Berlin) seront présents pour participer à la discussion générale.

Sir Hew Strachan au sujet du centenaire

Sir Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War à l’université d’Oxford et éminent spécialiste de la Première Guerre mondiale est intervenu le 14 mars 2013 à un colloque sur les enjeux de la commémoration de la Première Guerre mondiale. Vous pouvez lire un article résumant son intervention et son contexte ou regarder la vidéo en entier, mise en ligne par le nouveau service de presse autour du centenaire, Centenary News.