WWI Centenary Lecture Series


Editors Note: This is an archived blog post from 30/9/2013.

WWI Centenary Lecture Series:

The Different Faces of World War 1

Booking is essential – more info on booking will appear on the below website later in autumn

School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

Lecture Series 2013/14

Venue: Please check the SALC website for venue information:  www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/abouttheschool/schoolsandcommunityengagement

Time: 5-6pm (unless otherwise indicated)

In the run-up to the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, this lecture series considers the war from many different angles. Experts from the wide-ranging subject areas in the University of Manchester’s  School of Arts, Languages and Cultures share their research. Everybody is welcome – the talks are aimed at Sixth Form students and members of the public as well as University staff and students.

How to book: Attendance at lectures is free of charge, but please book a place via our website. Sixth form pupils may attend without teachers.

9 October 2013 Prof Matthew Jefferies (Department of German Studies):

Germany and the Approach of War in 1914

Although a number of recent publications have attempted to lessen Germany’s responsibility for the First World War – the ‘erosion of the German paradigm’ as Samuel Williamson has put it – it remains clear that the Wilhelmine Empire was a central factor in the outbreak of war. Rather than focusing on the well-documented events of the July Crisis, this talk looks at the longer term domestic and foreign policy considerations which led many high-ranking Germans to favour a military solution in the summer of 1914.

Of special interest to A-level: German, History

16 October 2013 Dr Laura Tunbridge (Department of Music)

Music during Wartime

This lecture will explore the different ways in which music was used during WWI: as a way to express feelings about the enemy; as a means to rally the troops; and as a way to commemorate the dead and console the bereaved.

Of special interest to A-level: History, Music, English

23 October 2013 Prof Peter Gatrell (Department of History)

Europe on the Move: the Great War and its Refugees

The First World War is regularly depicted as stalemate on the Western front, but across much of the European continent the experience was quite different, particularly for millions of civilians who were displaced by the war. A senior Red Cross official wrote ‘there were refugees everywhere. It was as if the entire world had to move or was waiting to move’. This lecture outlines the causes and extent of this crisis and how ordinary people tried to come to terms with their experiences. It concludes by assessing the significance of the refugee crisis a century later.

Of special interest to A-level: History

6 November 2013 Patrick Doyle (Department of History):

Ireland and the First World War

When Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, Ireland was in the midst of a political crisis. Nationalists and unionists were bitterly opposed over the issue of Home Rule which provided political autonomy for Ireland by establishing an Irish parliament. From 1913, Unionists and Nationalists had formed armed militias to oppose or support this legislation. The outbreak of the First World War temporarily defused this situation and it appeared that civil war had been averted. In September 1914, the Home Rule Act was passed through parliament, which granted Ireland powers of self-government, although the outbreak of war meant that the British government delayed its application. However, Home Rule was never implemented. The years 1914-18 represented an important period in Ireland’s history. The British war effort was supported by both Nationalists and Unionists with members from both communities joining the army in large numbers. However, in 1916, the outbreak of the nationalist rebellion against British rule in Dublin shifted the political climate once again, and nationalists became increasingly critical of Irish involvement in a ‘foreign’ war. This lecture outlines the huge political and changes that occurred in Ireland during the war and looks at the motivations of nationalists and unionists in their support or opposition to the war effort. The lecture will conclude by commenting upon the long-term impact of the war upon Irish society and considers the how the event is commemorated and contested.

Of special interest to A-level: History

13 November 2013 Dr Emma Griffiths (Department of Classics and Ancient History)

Homeric Mud in the Trenches

The dangers of a classical education are well known; inspired in part by acts of glory learned from their study of Homer, a generation of young men signed up for the First World War, only to find the reality was very different from the heroic epic model. This talk will examine the role of mud in The Iliad as something which destroys glory, and consider how this relates to the physical conditions of fighting in WW1 as seen through the eyes of poets such as Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg.

Of special interest to A-level: History, Classical Studies, English

20 November 2013 Prof Laura Doan (Department of English, American Studies and Creative Writing)

‘Muscular Femininity’: The Amazon and the Public during the First World War

In 1918 the travel writer and journalist Mrs. Ethel Alec-Tweedie published Women and Soldiers, which praised British women’s wider participation in the public sphere and even suggested that women might be allowed to fight alongside men in the trenches of the Western Front.  Alec-Tweedie extended a cheerful welcome to the new world order, declaring it a state of “topsy-turvydom” wherein “every man is a soldier, and every woman is a man.”  Read as a kind of syllogism we might infer: therefore, every woman is a soldier—or, to put it less literally, every woman is doing her bit for the country; yet the statement could also be taken in other ways.  This talk will look at examples of how women were perceived as well as how they perceived themselves in this extraordinary moment of cultural change.

Of special interest to A-level: English, History

27 November 2013


Dr Melanie Giles (Department of Archaeology)

The Archaeology of the Great War

Archaeology can provide unprecedented insights into the daily lives of soldiers on the Front, but it also enables us to investigate aspects of their death and burial as well. Exploring trench warfare from an archaeological perspective, we will examine some of the latest projects ranging from the discovery of lost remains at Fromelles, to the analysis of cemeteries and monuments, and the material culture of ‘trench art’ and graffiti. We will also feature the work of ‘Operation Nightingale’ showing how archaeology is being used as a tool of rehabilitation for contemporary soldiers.

Of special interest to A-level: Archaeology, History

4 December 2013 Dr Andrew Crome (Department of Religions & Theology)

“Mobilise the Nation for a Holy War”: Churches, Chaplains and British Religion in World War I

This talk examines the role of religion both on the front and in Britain during the First World War. British churches in the period have often been accused of failing to engage with the morality of warfare, with Protestant chaplains often portrayed as inefficient and disconnected from the majority of soldiers. This talk asks whether this criticism is justified, and will look at how religious beliefs changed for soldiers and for those in England dealing with the uncertainty and loss of warfare.

Of special interest to A-level: Religious Studies, History

11 December 2013 Dr Andrew Frayn (Department of English, American Studies and Creative Writing)

The First World War: Literary Enchantments and Disenchantments

It is too often taken as a given that literature about the First World War was disenchanted, or disillusioned.  This talk argues firstly that the enchantments about the war, the ‘big words’ which Ernest Hemingway believed were eradicated as a result, endured long after the war, and must be seen as interlinked with those negative reassessments.  Secondly, disenchantment was not only a response to the war, but also to industrial, urban modernity: a language of disenchantment was used to talk about life in the city and the poor conditions therein long before 1914.

Of special interest to A-level: English

18 December 2013 Dr Barbara Lebrun (Department of French Studies)

Singing the War in France

From August 1914, professional cabaret singers started to write and perform songs that addressed the conflict, initially with much patriotism and enthusiasm for France’s participation in the war. Around 1916 however, as the war continued and the dead grew in numbers, so the kinds of musical and popular entertainment offered to the troups and the civilians changed, often representing the war with more ambivalence and anti-militaristic sentiments. This talk will introduce some of the best known French acts and songs of the Great War.

Of special interest to A-level: French, Music

8 January 2014


Dr Christopher Godden (Department of History)

British Propaganda and the First World War – Imagining a United Nation

The First World War keeps its hold on us like a horror film, despite the numerous horrors and atrocities that have affected humanity since. Apart from being a great military and political event, the First World War was also a great imaginative event. From its outbreak in 1914, politicians, journalists, and ordinary men and women tried to understand and make sense of what the war meant. In terms of historical research about the First World War, historians have shifted their emphasis away from the study of military events towards understanding the central position of the war in relation to the lives and experiences of citizens who lived through it. From this has emerged a story centred around the role and strategies adopted by government propagandists in mobilising British society for war, and discussion about how this terrible conflict affected individuals, families, and society over the long term.

This lecture, and the accompanying workshop, will consider the ways in which British men and women understood the war while it was being fought, as well as analysing the role played by British government propagandists. Through an examination of several First World War propaganda posters, students will work towards answering the following questions: (1) what did war mean in the summer of 1914?, (2) what had it come to mean by 1917?, and (3) what were British citizens told to think about the war?

Part of the Star Lecture Series

 Please note: this talk is only open to Sixth Form Students. Booking is essential – more information on booking will appear on the website later in autumn




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