Writing War Seminar

Writing War
Location: Queen Mary University of London (Mile End Tube)
Convenors: Professor Catherine Merridale, Dr Dan Todman.

War and the ways it is experienced and remembered are a topic of continuing academic and popular interest. They form key vectors through which we understand the past and the present. Scholars in a wide range of disciplines touch on how war is described and analysed in their work, often from different perspectives and with little direct awareness of each other. In convening this new seminar, we would like to bring together those who study the experience and memory of war to discuss their work in an effort to build the field and develop a coherent approach across the disciplines. In terms of historical period, discipline and approach, the aim is to be inclusive rather than exclusive, in the belief that the very different challenges facing scholars of different periods can serve to illuminate the work of all.

The Writing War seminar will provide a setting which is interdisciplinary, informal and inspiring. The aim is to create a group in which every participant will feel happy to contribute in order to improve work in progress. The seminar will run as a mixture of workshop-style discussions and more formal papers and invites attendance from everyone with an interest in the field.

Amongst the questions we would like to address:

  • How are wars experienced as they happen?
  • What factors affect individual’s experiences of war and how do societies compose broader versions of wartime experience and meaning?
  • How should scholars write about war, combat and trauma? Are some elements of war ‘unwritable’?
  • How have wars been remembered – both by the individuals who take part and by the larger communities of which they are part? What factors affect the subsequent representation of war?
  • What can the many scholars who engage with the topic of war and memory – whose expertise varies widely in terms of period, discipline and approach – learn from each other?

The seminar will seek to identify and confront some of the key issues and problems – of materials, methodology and morality – implicit in the questions posed above.

The Writing War Seminar will meet on occasional Wednesdays throughout the year in the Graduate Centre, Lock Keepers Cottage, Queen Mary University of London. This semester the programme is as follows:

Suggestions for papers in the spring semester (and subsequently) are welcomed.
In order for us to gauge numbers, please contact the Postgraduate Administrator, history-postgrad@qmul.ac.uk, to express your interest.

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