Themes

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Memoirs

The First World War profoundly changed the lives of millions of people across the globe, inspiring many thousands to not only record their experiences in private diaries and letters, but to also publish articles and books about these experiences…

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Recording

Research on the First World War draws on a large variety of historical sources including textual documents, visual sources, artefacts, objects, and even audio recordings. After the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in 1877, audio documents…

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Postcard

The rise of the picture postcard coincided with the heyday of European colonialism at the beginning of the 20th century. As the picture postcard became one of the main means of communication, it is impossible to understand the project of colonial…

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Poem

The so-called 'war poets' have a central place in Anglophone literature and memory of the First World War. The enduring appeal of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, and Robert Graves tends to obscure the global dimensions of First…

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Photograph

Photography was a global phenomenon by the mid-19th century. Invented by Louis-Jaques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839, it developed into a mass medium of communication by the end of the century. The development of photographic technology went hand in hand…

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Newspapers & Magazines

Newspapers and magazines were the most important medium of mass communication in the First World War. In the decades prior to 1914, due to increasing literacy rates and cheaper production and distribution costs, newspapers had become available in all…

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Letter

The First World War was an unprecedented moment in letter writing. The upheaval of war made letter writing a necessity. In this conflict, millions of letters, postcards, and telegrams were sent across the globe, to keep in touch with friends and…

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Film

On the eve of the First World War, the new medium of film, which premiered in 1896, was mostly perceived as fairground entertainment. Although scenes from theSecond Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), and the Balkan Wars…

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Diary

Diaries written during the First World War, by politicians, officers, soldiers, or civilians, are important documents to understand the inner lives of those who were participants in and witness to the conflict. Epitomising the genre of ego-documents,…

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Religion

Religion may have been the opiate for the masses to Karl Marx but during the First World War, it seemed to pervade every aspect of life, whether at home or on the front. While the importance of the Christian faith and the resulting crisis for…

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Race

‘Race’ is perhaps one of the most difficult categories and concepts to define in the context of the early twentieth century and the First World War. Understood now as a social construct, contemporary knowledge of race as factual, based on…

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Propaganda

In our time of social media, the First World War strikes us as a highly modern, mediatized mass-event. People from all over the world, including those distant from the battlefields, those living in neutral nations, those in the colonies, could read…

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Neutrality

The First World War was the first global conflict. Through a complex network of connections between royal families, empires and their colonies, global finances and production, many countries became entangled in the war. It became a catastrophe:…

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Mobility

Never before had war affected the lives of so many people across the globe so profoundly. Soldiers and civilians on all continents left their homes, voluntarily, forcibly, or out of necessity, to serve, work, and survive. This mass mobility created…

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Language

The First World War was an unprecedented moment of mass mobility. Soldiers and civilians were forced to leave their homes and found themselves in new places separated from what they defined as their own culture, their nation, and their religion. In…

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Intellectual Exchange

In cultural life, the Great War gave rise to movements of withdrawal and rapprochement. On one hand, the conflict obstructed international dialogue among intellectuals. As nationalism rose, borders were closed and former friends became enemies. But…

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Imperial Strategy

By the turn of the twentieth century, European empires such as France, Britain, and Russia controlled (and exploited) large territories all across the world. With the growth of these capitalist industrialist powers, their imperial strategies and…

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Gender

The place of gender in the encounters and exchanges between people during the First World War must be understood in its intersections with other categories, including race and class. The First World War could be seen as period of masculinities in…

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Captivity

During the First World War the experience of captivity became a global mass phenomenon. Around ten million combatants and civilians were captured or interned , experiencing the war behind barbed wire or in labour camps. While the experience of…

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