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Artistic Expressions and the Great War, A Hundred Years On


Edited By Sally Debra Charnow

The Great War set in motion all of the subsequent violence of the twentieth century. The war took millions of lives, led to the fall of four empires, established new nations, and negatively affected others. During and after the war, individuals and communities struggled to find expression for their wartime encounters and communal as well as individual mourning. Throughout this time of enormous upheaval, many artists redefined their role in society, among them writers, performers, painters, and composers. Some sought to renew or re-establish their place in the postwar climate, while others longed for an irretrievable past, and still others tried to break with the past entirely.

This volume offers a significant interdisciplinary contribution to the study of modern war, exploring the ways that artists contributed to wartime culture – both representing and shaping it – as well as the ways in which wartime culture influenced artistic expressions. Artists’ places within and against reconstruction efforts illuminate the struggles of the day. The essays included represent a transnational perspective and seek to examine how artists dealt with the experience of conflict and mourning and their role in (re-)establishing creative practices in the changing climate of the interwar years.

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The chapters assembled here were drawn from the conference ‘Artistic Expressions and the Great War, A Hundred Years On’ that I organized at Hofstra University in November 2018, coinciding with the centennial marking the end of the Great War. Scholars from around the world gathered to explore the ways in which literature, performing arts, visual arts, architecture, propaganda, and other mass-mediated forms contributed to wartime and postwar culture both representing and shaping it. Special thanks to all of the participants (presenters and audience) of the conference for the lively conversation that ensued; and especially to the contributors to this collection of chapters for their support and shared purpose.

I am grateful to the Hofstra University Cultural Centre for hosting the conference and for its backing of the publication of this volume. A deep and heartfelt appreciation for Melissa Connolly, Vice President, University Relations for creating the opportunity to offer the conference and for her generous and continued support of my work; to Athelene A. Collins, Executive Director of the Hofstra Cultural Centre, and her staff, especially Carol D. Mallison (Manager, Conferences and Events), for their enthusiasm and attention to all of the details of the conference; and a special thank you to Gail Simmons, then Provost, for her warm welcome to conference participants. Much gratitude to my colleagues in the history department at Hofstra for their ongoing sustenance, intellectual engagement, and good humour, especially Simon Doubleday, Stanislau Pugliese, Mario Ruiz, and Katrina R. Sims. A special...

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