September 11-14 2014 First World War Conference [UPDATE]

full name / name of organization: 
United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York, USA
contact email: 

September 11-14 2014 First World War Conference

"Literature, Memory, and the First World War"

Call for Papers
United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York, USA
Co-Sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy, and the Department of History

I would read accounts of so-called battles I had been in, and they had no relation whatever to what had happened. So I began to perceive that anything written was fiction to various degrees. The whole subject – the difference between actuality and representation – was an interesting one. And that's what brought me to literature in the first place.
Paul Fussell

The First World War resounds in our collective consciousness as if it ended yesterday. We find it endlessly fascinating yet endlessly horrifying; it demonstrated both our power and our powerlessness, our capacity for remarkable innovation and our willingness to endure remarkable stagnation, and both our awe-inspiring humanity and our incredible inhumanity. Since the first poets attempted to represent their impressions of the war in 1914, scholars, novelists, memoirists, historians, and artists have also attempted to help us understand what the war was like and to explain the way in which it transformed human character, altering our fundamental understanding of history, national and international politics, and military philosophy. Virginia Woolf famously recalls its impact in A Room of One's Own when she notes that "[e]verything was different" after the war. She claims that even the tone of conversations was different in the aftermath of four years of violent struggle resulting in 36 million casualties. Indeed, World War One seems to have essentially altered the tenor of Western imagination and Western culture; it certainly changed the way cultures recorded, narrated, and remembered war, and it fractured conventional modes of aesthetic expression.

In this conference, therefore, we invite paper proposals that focus on the unique literature, history, and memory inspired by the First World War. In this interdisciplinary conference, we will consider how the war shifted the manner in which we craft war's historical narrative, and explore the ways in which the war crafted our understanding of modern identity. Planned to coincide with and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the emergence of the war's most salient feature—trench warfare, this four-day conference will allow us to reckon with the Great War and its aftermath, and explore the ways in which we have remembered it.

Panels, Events, and Keynote Speakers:

For this interdisciplinary conference, we welcome paper and panel proposals from all disciplines. Proposals should explain the paper's concept and scholarly significance in 500 or fewer words. With your proposal, please submit a short biographical statement in the 100-word range. Please forward proposals for individual papers or panels by April 4, 2014 to

In addition to an array of panels, conference participants will enjoy a program of distinguished speakers to include Professor Vincent Sherry author of both the Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the First World War (2005) and The Great War and the Language of Modernism (2003)) and Professor Michael Neiberg, founding member of the Société Internationale d'Étude de la Grande Guerre and author of Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I (2011), The Second Battle of the Marne (2008), The Western Front, 1914-1916 (2008) and editor of The World War I Reader: Primary and Secondary Sources (2006). Attendees may also participate in several cultural excursions in the scenic Hudson Valley, including West Point tours and access to the West Point Museum's galleries on the history of warfare.

Paper topics might include, but are not limited to:

• Creative Memory and Imagined Histories in Post-WWI Western Culture
• Creating the war; the Great War's narratives and histories
• Statues and Monuments Everywhere: Memorializing War and the Place of Battle
• War Poetry and the End of Idealism
• Trauma and Memory
• Machines and Modernism
• Minorities and WWI
• Nationalism and Memorialization
• Casualties in the Public Eye
• Women and the Great War
• A Strange Space: Domesticity in the Muddy Trenches
• Contemporary Representations of WWI
• The Great War in the Arts: Cinema, Music, and Literature
• What Was Accomplished? The Costs of Ending the War
• Static Spaces, Static Thinking: Trench Warfare and Entrenched Thinking
• Big Guns and Big Hearts: Courage in the Face of Battle
• The Domino Effect: Origins of the First World War
• Why They Fought: Soldiers and the Home Front
• Imperial, Colonial & Postcolonial Perspectives
• Rank and Class: Perspectives on Generalship, Leadership and Soldiering
• The Great War's advocates: Policymakers and National Strategies
• The Legacy of the First World War: Satire, Hyperbole and Sensibility
• The Ethics of Memory