Monday, September 16, 2013

Remembering World War I in the Northeast of England

Randall Stephens

The Response by Sir William
Goscombe John. Unveiled by
the Prince of Wales in 1923.
Ernest Hemingway didn't mince words.  The author of A Farewell to Arms claimed that World War I "was the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth. Any writer who said otherwise lied. So the writers either wrote propaganda, shut up, or fought."  Seeing the ravages of war up close, he served with distinction as an ambulance driver in Italy.  Gertrude Stein coined the phrase "lost generation," which applied to Hemingway and other wayward souls like T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What accounts for the gap between Hemingway's tone and the gallant, heroic one of war memorials?  Did region have a role to play in war remembrance?  How do we make sense of the conflict now that the last veterans have passed away?

As we near the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I Don Yerxa has been conducting a series of interviews on the subject in the pages of Historically Speaking.  Watch for other essays, forums, and interviews in the coming months.

Here at Northumbria University my colleague in the History Programme, James McConnel has put together a stellar series of lectures to commemorate the war in the northeast of England.  This region responded in greater numbers, per capita, than any other.  So, the memories of the war take on a special meaning here.  Below is the full list of the lectures and the dates.

Tynemouth World War I Commemoration Project. (Lectures to be held at 6pm at Northumbria University, Sutherland Building, Northumberland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8JF).

9 October 2013
Professor Sir Hew Strachan, All Souls College Oxford
"The Ideas of War, 1914"

12 November 2013
Emeritus Professor Martin Pugh, Newcastle University
"Women and the First World War: Emancipation or Domesticity?"

3 December 2013
John Lewis-Stempel
"Six Weeks: The Life and Death of Junior Officers on the Western Front"

British Empire Union poster, 1918.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
21 January 2014
Emeritus Professor John Derry, Newcastle University
"Hindenberg and Luddendorf: A Brilliant Parnership?"

18 February 2014
Dr Edward Madigan, CWGC
"The Better Part of Valour: British Understandings of Courage during the First World War"

4 March 2014
Professor Gary Sheffield, University of Birmingham
"Douglas Haig, the First World War, and the British People"

8 April 2014
Professor Andrew Lambert, King’s College London
"The War at Sea from the July Crisis to the eve of Jutland"

8 May 2014
Professor Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck College London
"'Sharp Shooting Pains that Make Me Shout Out': A History of Disability and the First World War"

For more, click here.

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