New books: ‘Turning Point 1917’ & ‘Le génocide des Arméniens’

Two new books have been published on the First World War.

Turning Point 1917. The British Empire at War
University of British Columbia Press, 2017.
Authors:
Douglas E. Delaney holds the Canada Research Chair in War Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is the author of The Soldiers’ General: Bert Hoffmeister at War (2005), which won the 2007 C.P. Stacey Prize for Canadian Military History, and Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-45 (2011). He is also co-editor (with Serge Marc Durflinger) of Capturing Hill 70: Canada’s Forgotten Battle of the First World War (2016).
Nikolas Gardner holds the Class of 1965 Chair in Leadership at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is the author of Trial by Fire: Command and the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 (2003) and The Siege of Kut-al-Amara: At War in Mesopotamia, 1915-1916 (2014).

Further information here.

For the British Empire and its allies of the Great War, 1917 was a year marked by one crisis after another. There was the overthrow of the Russian czar and the collapse of his massive armies, and the mutinies of the battered French army. There was also social and political upheaval on the home front, including labour unrest in Britain and opposition to conscription in Canada and Australia. But, here and there, glimmers of light pierced the gloom. Soldiers began solving the problems posed by trench warfare. The dominions, inspired by burgeoning nationalism, asserted themselves more in the councils of imperial power. And the United States finally entered the war.

Turning Point 1917 examines the British imperial war effort during the most pivotal and dynamic twelve months of the Great War. Written by internationally recognized historians from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, its chapters explore military, diplomatic, and domestic aspects of how the empire prosecuted the war. Their rich, nuanced analysis transcends narrow, national viewpoints of the conflict to examine the British Empire as a coalition rather than individual states engaged in their own distinctive struggles.

By drawing attention to the events that made 1917 a turning point, this book provides a unique perspective on the war. These events ultimately laid the groundwork for victory, strengthening the position of the British Empire relative to its enemies while, at the same time, forging arrangements to accommodate the increasingly divergent interests and identities of the dominions.

 

Le génocide des Arméniens : représentations, traces, mémoires
Sous la direction de : Joceline Chabot, Marie-Michèle Doucet, Sylvia Kasparian, Jean-François Thibault
Presses de l’Université Laval, 2017.

En 2015 avait lieu le 100 e anniversaire du génocide des Arméniens. Durant la Première Guerre mondiale, plus d’un million d’Arméniens ont été exterminés en raison d’une politique génocidaire instaurée et perpétrée par les autorités en place dans l’Empire ottoman. Aujourd’hui, ce drame est considéré comme l’un des premiers génocides du XX e siècle.

Ce livre, qui réunit des chercheurs nationaux et internationaux, explore les thèmes et les questions qui animent les recherches les plus récentes sur le génocide des Arméniens. Les chapitres qui composent cet ouvrage collectif sont regroupés autour de trois axes : représentations, traces et mémoires. En privilégiant une approche multidisciplinaire, il s’agit de rendre compte des dimensions multiples de cet objet d’étude et de mettre en relief les aspects structurants des débats actuels sur le génocide des Arméniens.

Further information here.

New publications: Literature & the Great War. Toby Garfitt, Oxford & Nicolas Bianchi, Montpellier

Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature (STTCL) (http://newprairiepress.org/sttcl/) is committed to publishing high quality, anonymously peer reviewed articles written in English on post-1900 literature in French, German, and Spanish. All issues are available online.

Recently published special issue: 41.2 (Summer 2017): Writing 1914-1918. National Responses to the Great War. “From the National Context to its Margins: When the World Used Literature to Respond to the Great War”.

Guest Editors: Toby Garfitt & Nicolas Bianchi

Articles on Canada and Argentina as well as France, Germany and Britain. Full table of contents available here.

By shedding light on some original responses to the Great War that are today hardly known, and by asking the same questions of many works written in contexts which were radically different, this STTCL special issue advocates for a genuinely comparative approach to this literature. Born in a context of nationalist withdrawal, these cultural objects also had a paradoxically wide circulation (due to early translations, commentaries, literary reactions, and so on), which is why study of these apparently isolated writers is so valuable.

 

Writing the Great War / Comment écrire la Grande Guerre?
Francophone and Anglophone Poetics / Poétiques francophones et anglophones
Edited by Nicolas Bianchi and Toby Garfitt

Series: Romanticism and after in France / Le Romantisme et après en France, Vol. 27
Series Editor: Patrick McGuinness

Peter Lang, Oxford, 2017. XIV, 366 pp.. ISBN: 978-1-78707-198-8 (print)
Available to purchase in ePDF and ePUB formats here.

For France the First World War, or Great War, was a war of national self-defence, but for Britain it was not. Does that mean that French literary treatments of this unimaginably destructive war were very different from British ones? Not necessarily – but much can be learned from considering both traditions side by side, something that is rarely done.

The essays collected in this bilingual volume, by a range of scholars working on literature and history on both sides of the Channel, show that while the wider purposes of the war are striking for their absence in both French and British traditions, there are many common strands: realistic narratives of the trenches, humour as a safety-valve, imagination and creativity. Yet there are differences, too: for instance, there is plenty of French poetry about the war, but no real equivalent of the British «war poets». The volume looks at iconic figures like Owen, Brooke, Barbusse, Apollinaire and Proust, but also at a number of lesser known writers, and includes a study of «poetry of colour», recognising the active contribution of some four million non-Europeans to the war effort. The book includes a preface by the eminent war historian Sir Hew Strachan.

Engagée dans une guerre défensive sur ses frontières, la France connut une Grande Guerre bien différente de celle avec laquelle composèrent ses alliés britanniques. Faut-il en conclure que les deux nations furent amenées à produire des réponses au conflit radicalement différentes? Peut-on dégager des traditions nationales ou des tendances transnationales ouvrant la voie à des comparaisons encore rarement esquissées par la critique littéraire? C’est le pari des contributions de ce volume bilingue, réunissant autour de la question: «comment écrire la Grande Guerre?», les articles de spécialistes francophones et anglophones des domaines historique et littéraire. Il montre la variété des thématiques partagées par les deux traditions littéraires: récits réalistes des tranchées, usage de l’humour comme d’un exutoire salutaire, imagination et créativité; et souligne la présence de différences notables, comme l’absence de mythification en France de la poésie de 14, pourtant elle-aussi produite en masse tout au long de la guerre. L’ouvrage, tout en donnant une place de choix aux écrivains de premier ordre (Owen, Brooke, Barbusse, Apollinaire ou Proust), tente d’offrir quelque visibilité à un certain nombre d’auteurs moins connus, au nombre desquels des auteurs de couleur, à qui leur contribution à l’effort de guerre n’aura pas valu la reconnaissance littéraire attendue. La préface a été rédigée par Sir Hew Strachan, grand spécialiste de l’histoire de la période.

Nicolas Bianchi is a normalien and agrégé de lettres modernes, teaching at Université Montpellier III.
Toby Garfitt is Fellow and Tutor in French at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Blog: Revisiting the 1917 Stockholm Peace Conference: Indian Nationalism, International Socialism, and Anti-Imperialism

A recent blog by Ole Birk Laursen on the University of Exeter’s Global and Imperial Forum discusses how the centenaries of the Russian revolutions (1917) and the end of the First World War (1918), are connected through the abandoned Stockholm Peace Conference and, given their anti-imperialist narratives, how they impacted the colonial world. Despite the attendance of Indians, Egyptians, Persians and Turks in Stockholm, the scant historical inquiries into this might-have-been moment tend to neglect how such anti-imperial ambitions were tied to world peace.

Ole Birk Laursen (Research Affiliate, the Open University) is a historian of Black and South Asian people in Britain and Europe with a particular focus anti-imperialism and anarchism. In addition to book chapters and journal articles on Indian nationalism, his book The Indian Revolutionary Movement in Europe, 1905-1918 is forthcoming with Liverpool University Press (2019).

Book review: Lawrence of Arabia’s War: The Arabs, the British and the Remaking of the Middle East in WW1, by Neil Faulkner.

The story of the young war hero has historically captivated Western readers for decades. However, in the recent past, there have been calls to engage more deeply with the lesser-known histories and broader participants in the First World War. In this context, Sneha Reddy argues that Faulkner’s book goes in the other direction and shifts the spotlight back to Lawrence by making him the central focus of his study. Nonetheless, she adds, for a book that is a result of a ten-year endeavour, ending in 2014, to study modern conflict archaeology as part of the Great Arab Revolt Project, it is uniquely placed.

Author: Sneha Reddy is a PhD student at the School of International Relations in the University of St Andrews. Her research focuses on French North African and British Indian soldiers in the First World War in the Middle East.

Review on publisher’s site here
Author’s e-print link
Article DOI

WW1 Centenary blog: Tagore in the time of war 1913-1919, by Sneha Reddy

Ideas and influence of poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore during the first world war
Marking 100 years of Tagore’s lectures, delivered in Japan and USA, published in 1917 under the title ‘Nationalism’

‘Although Tagore is best known for his poetry, he was also an accomplished novelist, artist, dramatist, essayist and made prolific music compositions. His work gained international prominence just as the winds of nationalism and mutual distrust swept across the European continent and morphed into a conflict in 1914. The poet saw the oncoming war as an assault on humanity and explored its political and cultural consequences through his writings. European intellectuals and literary figures who witnessed the war’s brutality at their shores sought ‘insights coming from elsewhere’ and for many, Tagore’s voice ‘fit the need splendidly’ (Sen 2011).’

Full article here.

Sneha Reddy is a first-year PhD student at the School of International Relations in the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland. Her research focuses on French North African and British Indian soldiers in the First World War in the Middle East. She is on twitter @sneha_tumu

Commonwealth War Graves Commission intern programme

2017 CWGC Centenary Interns

Want to take part in our paid internship in France & Belgium next summer?

The CWGC Centenary Interns will join the Commission for four months, based in France and Belgium, to welcome visitors to some of the CWGC’s most well-known sites. These will include the CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ieper (Ypres), which will be the focus of the UK Government commemorations of the Centenary of Passchendaele: Third Battle of Ypres in July 2017.

Responses must be received by 10pm on Friday 20/01/17 and completed registration forms by 10pm on Friday 27/01/17.

For further information and to register your interest, see here.

New article: ‘Frederick Coates: First World War Facial Architect’

‘Frederick Coates: First World War Facial Architect’ by Dr. Marjorie Gehrhardt and Dr Suzanne Steele has just been published online in the Journal of War & Culture Studies. It will appear in print in January 2017.

The role of artists in the First World War is often understood only in terms of their artistic response to the conflict in paint, music, or sculpture. In fact, artists’ contributions were also engaged at an applied level, for example in the areas of propaganda, camouflage, and map-making. Beyond this, a small number participated in repairing the damage caused by the conflict. Frederick Coates, a British-born sculptor who emigrated to Canada in 1913, enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and worked alongside surgeons and other artists to try and help give new features to facially injured combatants. Drawing upon unpublished photographs and scrapbooks, this article investigates Coates’s war experience and his contribution to the reconstruction of broken faces. Through a close examination of this ‘facial architect’, as Coates was called, this article gives an insight into the work performed in maxillofacial hospitals and underlines the importance of cross-national, multi-disciplinary collaboration.

The authors hope that the article will promote a far greater understanding of the artist’s engagement with the war effort beyond camouflage, map making, and other more conventional war artist roles, and will broaden the field from one that, until this research, has primarily focussed on Harold Gillies, Tonks, and Derwent Wood et al. The research has revealed networks of collaboration, influence, and convergence within the artistic and surgical operations during the Great War.