SCMS Panel: Cinema of World War I

full name / name of organization: 
Liz Clarke, Wilfrid Laurier University
contact email: 

Panel for Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2014

Counter-narratives in the Cinema of World War I

For the last hundred years, the World War I has been presented in both documentary and feature films within the context of a dominant narrative: the transformation of male characters from the beneficiaries of an idyllic pre-war world to the hardened and brutalized victims of trench or aerial warfare. It is often suggested that the combatant nations experienced a similar transformation. In the context of this narrative, canonical films such as Wings, The Big Parade, All Quiet on the Western Front, J'Accuse, A Farewell to Arms, The Grand Illusion, Sergeant York, Oh, What a Lovely War function simultaneously war films and anti-war films, adventure films, tragedies, morality plays and studies in absurdity. While we are often reminded of the War's dubious origins and illogical pursuit, we are just as often left with a point: that the excesses of unthinking militarism are to be avoided and indeed can be avoided by the sadder but wiser men who return from the trenches.
It is the purpose of this panel to discuss cinematic depictions of the Great War that exist outside of or run counter to this dominant narrative. These may be entire films or aspects of films. We invite papers that seek to counter, complicate and further nuance our understanding of World War I as presented in the cinema. Topics may include the depiction of:
- the role and evolution of women during the Great War period
- colonialism and the War
- transnational audiences and representing war
- intermediality and the films of World War I
- pacifists and the pursuit of pacifism
- labor and the workplace during the War years
- the arts and artists in support and resistance to the War
- audience and critical response to these films

Send 250-300 word abstract, 5 source sample bibliography, and short biographical statement by August 10, 2013 to:

Seth Feldman
York University

Liz Clarke
Wilfrid Laurier University