Tag Archives: World War One

Call for Poster for the Summer Institute of the Historial Research Centre : Initiations? The Experience of Modern War (1853-2013)


Univ. d'été

Call for posters

Summer Institute




Organized by:

– International Research Center, Historial de la Grande Guerre (Péronne, France)

– Institut Historique Allemand (Paris, France)

– Université Blaise Pascal / CHEC (Clermont-Ferrand, France)

– EHESS (Paris, France)

– Université Picardie Jules Verne (Amiens, France)

– Université du Luxembourg (Luxembourg)


In partnership with:

– Université franco-allemande

– Mission du centenaire


From June 30 to July 5, 2014, the Historial de la Grande Guerre will host both an international conference and a Summer Institute for young researchers at the masters and doctoral levels.


The conference, “Initiations? First Moments in the First World War,” will be held from June 30 to July 2. The Summer Institute will run from June 30 through July 5.

The conference welcomes 30 specialists of the First World War, and the Institute provides the opportunity for 30 young scholars to join them in Péronne.

The Summer Institute seeks to broaden the themes introduced by the conference by widening the temporal scope to include all modern conflicts, from the Crimea through the wars of the 21st century.


Beginnings, foundational experiences, initiations, inaugural practices—each of these terms opens different frames for possible interpretation. By encouraging analysis at both the individual and collective level, the goal of the conference—and, more broadly, of the summer institute—is to rethink wartime experiences. How do historical actors use their first experience in these “modern” conflicts to perceive, endure, and, later, “construct” their war?


We hope to encourage social and cultural histories that are intrinsically comparative and open to the influence of other fields in the social sciences—such as anthropology, psychology, and law.

Behind the question of the “initiation” to modern war, is thus an interrogation of the “power of beginnings.” The Institute will endeavor to place the Great War within the longer history of modern conflicts.



Interested students should submit: a one-page summary of their relevant current research; and a one-page CV. Those selected for the summer institute will participate in all scheduled events and will also present a poster (in A1 format, this equals 841 mm x 594 mm or 23.4 Inches x 33.1 Inches). A tutorial for the realization of posters will be provided. Contributions and posters that examine questions related to “other fronts” are encouraged.

The working languages of the Institute will be French, English, and German. Participants must be fluent in one of these languages and have a good knowledge of at least one of the others.

The age limit for consideration is 35. Candidates must be enrolled as masters or doctoral candidates at an accredited university.

25 candidates will be selected from this call. The five remaining spots will be filled by this year’s winners of the Gerda Henkel research grant from the International Research Center.

The date for submission of abstracts is 31 March 2014, by email, to: peronne2014@ehess.fr


Additional information

The conference will house the successful candidates in Péronne and provide all the meals. Travel costs to Péronne can be defrayed up to a maximum of 150 Euros for students from France and 200 Euros for students from abroad. There are no registration fees for the Institute or the conference.

Certificates of participation that might be needed to obtain a university (for instance ECTS) credit can be provided if requested in advance.


Provision schedule

Sunday, June 29

Afternoon: Welcome. Guided tour of the museum by the founding members of the research center.

Evening: Dinner buffet at the museum. Display of posters and workshop introducing the Summer Institute (1 hour). Working groups.


Monday, June 30

Morning and afternoon to 6:00PM: Conference: Sessions 1 and 2.

6:00-7:00PM: Award of Gerda Henkel research grants from the International Research Center of the Historial de la Grande Guerre.

8:30-10:00PM: Keynote lecture: Annette Becker, “The Great War and Extreme Violence Against Civilians: An Initiation?”


Tuesday, July 1

6:30AM-12:00PM: Commemoration of July 1 on the battlefields (La Boiselle and Thiepval or Beaumont-Hamel).

2:00-6:30PM: Conference: Session 3.

8:00-10:00PM: Screening of La Cicatrice, a new film by Laurent Veray (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3).


Wednesday, July 2

Morning and afternoon: Conference: Sessions 4 and 5


Thursday, July 3

Morning: Workshop and feedback: critique and discussion of the conference led by the students and the organizing committee. Working groups present and discuss their findings from the conference.

Afternoon: Session of posters, with the historians of the International Research Center.

Evening: Keynote lecture


Friday, July 4

Morning: “Literary” visit to the battlefields of the Somme, with Nicolas Beaupré (Université Blaise Pascal – Clermont-Ferrand)

Afternoon: seminar and workshops: “Digital humanities and the First World War”

Evening: Concluding workshop


Saturday, July 5

Departure of participants


Internet presence

The conference and the Summer Institute are supported by the International Research Center’s multilingual “research forum” on hypotheses.org. Conference and Institute participants may find useful information there, and the forum also provides First World War news, links, documents, archives, brief articles, and editorials…


See: 1418.hypotheses.org

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crhistorial

Or Twitter: @cr_historial


Organizing committee

Nicolas Beaupré (UBP Clermont-Ferrand, CIRHGG, IUF), Caroline Fontaine (CIRHGG), Franziska Heimburger (EHESS), Benoît Majerus (Université du Luxembourg), Nicolas Patin (Institut Historique Allemand, Paris), Manon Pignot (Université de Picardie-Jules-Verne, IUF), Emmanuel Saint-Fuscien (EHESS), Alexandre Sumpf (Université de Strasbourg), Gene Tempest (Boston University), Arndt Weinrich (Institut Historique Allemand, Paris).


Scientific committee

The scientific committee includes all the members of the board of the International Research Center. For more information please see: http://www.historial.org/Centre-international-de-recherche/Presentation.

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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Call for papers “Initiations? Primordial Experiences of the First World War”

In November 2011, the Research Center of the Péronne Historial organised a conference on the anticipation of warfare before 1914. For the 1914 Centenary, the Center is now preparing a conference on the unanticipated: how did contemporaries make sense of the primordial experiences that marked the conflict and shaped its representations?

Beware Marc Bloch’s caveat regarding “embryogenic obsession”! We do not seek to argue that the First World War was necessarily a foundational experience for its participants. Proposals are encouraged to question the very concepts of “primordial experiences,” “first times,” and “initiations.”

“Gas mask, helmet type, canvas with metal fittings and glass eyepieces, British, 1915”, digitised collections, Science Museum London, http://collectionsonline.nmsi.ac.uk/grabimg.php?wm=1&kv=182709

“Gas mask, helmet type, canvas with metal fittings and glass eyepieces, British, 1915”, digitised collections, Science Museum London, http://collectionsonline.nmsi.ac.uk/grabimg.php?wm=1&kv=182709

Papers are not restricted to that which was truly “new” during the First World War; proposals might instead attempt to understand the emotions and sensations as felt for the first time by contemporaries.

We must look beyond 1914, past societies’ and soldiers’ baptisms of fire, to apply the “first time” as a historical tool to better understand the First World War experience.

The Western Front is only one theater among many; proposals are encouraged to examine these concepts on other fronts and from various comparative perspectives. Multi-disciplinary approaches, also encouraged, might draw from anthropology, psychology, or law.

Conference themes

1. Initiations

This panel addresses foundational experiences and the other kinds of “initiations,” broadly defined. Linked to the war’s environments, these might include: training soldiers; baptisms of fire; discovery of the battlefield; re-learning the injured body… Initiations need not be restricted to 1914, and might include experiences linked to the introduction of gas and tanks. Works of military history are welcome, including proposals related to primary groups and learning curves.

2. Movements

The second session examines the spatial and social meanings of “the first time,” and includes both physical and mental experiences of displace-ment. Papers might address how individuals adapt to new surroundings—in spaces real or imagined.
Collective experiences of displace-ment in wartime (for e.g mobilization, desertion, strategic troop movements, exodus, or deportation) might be approached as social histories on various levels of analysis.

3. Separations and encounters

Relationships between individuals are central to the conference; papers might address how these rapports were refashioned by war. Proposals might focus on separations between lovers, friends, family members, colleagues… or on encounters that helped build wartime identities. First contacts are central: experience of occupation, meetings between allies, commerce of all kinds… Papers might focus on linguistic, social, political, or religious encounters. Transnational perspectives are particularly encouraged.

4. Senses and emotions

This panel is based on a history of emotions and senses—first blood, first tears, first fear, first smells. In other words: first contact, physical or psychological, with war and its violent nature. How were these events felt and described? Papers need not be limited to the manifestation of emotions; proposals might instead pay particular attention to the narratives written by this history. The influence of period literature, medicine, psychology, and military science might be considered.

5. Interpretations

The final panel will investigate how contemporaries constructed wartime narratives. Proposals might recall the early forms of commemorative language and early museographic attempts. Papers are encouraged to place these early interpreatations within the wider political, social, ideological, and economic discourse of the interwar period.

Envelope that contained mobilisation orders for the French army, Historial collections

Envelope that contained mobilisation orders for the French army, Historial collections

Scientific Advisory Board:

The members of the directory board of the International Research Center of the Péronne Historial act as the scientific advisory board for the conference.

Organising Committee:
Nicolas Beaupré (UBP Clermont, IUF), Franziska Heimburger (EHESS), Benoît Majerus (Université du Luxembourg), Manon Pignot (Université de Picardie, IUF), Emmanuel Saint-Fuscien (EHESS), Alexandre Sumpf (Université de Strasbourg), Gene Tempest (Yale), Arndt Weinrich (German Historical Institute Paris) and for the CIRHGG its director Caroline Fontaine.

Photo credits for the header/footer: Jean-Pierre Gilson http://www.jpgilson.fr

Your proposal may be submitted in English or in French (the two working languages of the conference) by email to peronne2014@ehess.fr by 30th May 2013. Please include a proposal of max. 500 words and a brief academic CV.

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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Book Review – Becker/cicatrices

Avec Les cicatrices rouges1 Annette Becker poursuit la réflexion engagée depuis quinze ans sur les régimes d’occupation pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. La professeure de Paris-Ouest-Nanterre a découvert la problématique lorsqu’elle a été nommée à l’Université Charles de Gaulle Lille III, et depuis, elle s’est positionnée comme une des spécialistes de la question dans l’historiographie française mais également internationale. Elle a largement contribué à en faire un des sujets qui ont porté le renouveau historiographique autour de la « Grande Guerre ».

Dans ce livre publié chez Fayard et suivi par Anthony Rowley, l’auteure présente une synthèse bienvenue sur la France et la Belgique qui repose d’une part sur ses propres recherches et d’autre part sur l’historiographie belge particulièrement foisonnante depuis une dizaine d’années. C’est d’ailleurs le manque relatif de travaux sur les territoires occupés à l’Est qui explique son choix géographique : les quelques excursions qu’elle se permet néanmoins dans cette direction montrent tout l’intérêt de tels travaux comparatifs.

En suivant une trace chronologique, Annette Becker nous livre une histoire des occupations en quatorze chapitres qui portent toujours des verbes comme titres : « envahir », « fuir », « être femme », « avoir faim »… Après les « Oubliés de la Grande Guerre », titre d’un premier livre publié en 1998 et consacré entre autres aux territoires occupés, l’historienne française place son ouvrage cette fois sous l’expression de « l’outre-guerre », une guerre qui ne se définit pas par l’opposition entre deux armées séparées par une ligne de front, mais par un état intermédiaire où la violence et l’affrontement ne sont pas pour autant absents. Trois idées traversent ce livre.

Les territoires occupés, 10 départements français du Nord et de l’Est et presque la totalité de la Belgique, représentent un espace où la « culture de guerre », concept développé de concert avec Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, est particulièrement visible. Elle explique les violences exercées par l’occupant. Elle donne un cadre de mise en sens pour les populations civiles confrontées à cette situation.

Le temps de l’occupation est également un laboratoire de la guerre totale. Annette Becker souligne l’importance de ces régions pour les nouveaux experts de la guerre qu’il s’agisse de militaires, de médecins ou de juristes. Aussi bien pendant la guerre que dans l’après-guerre, les territoires occupés servent d’espace de projection pour définir la « race allemande », un nouveau « droit des gens » ou expérimenter la déportation de populations jugées hostiles.

Liée à ce deuxième point est une réflexion plus large sur la place de la Grande Guerre dans la généalogie des conflits du XXe siècle et notamment son rapport avec la période ’39-’45.

Les deux conflits en général et leurs occupations en particulier sont en effet et avec raison de plus en plus inscrits dans une lecture comparative et croisée. Cette comparaison entre les deux historiographies m’amène néanmoins aussi aux limites de ce livre. Imaginerions-nous un moment d’intituler aujourd’hui un livre Les cicatrices rouges 40-44. France et Belgique occupées ? On nous reprocherait non sans raison que cette vision victimisante de la population occupée est datée et ne tient pas compte de la complexité des années d’occupation. Or, l’historiographie de la Grande Guerre sur l’occupation continue à livrer un récit assez manichéen opposant d’un côté l’occupant, représenté sur la couverture par un casque à pointe sur une carte de la Belgique et de la France maculée de sang, et d’un autre côté, l’occupé qui n’y apparaît qu’à la façon d’une victime. Cette vision par trop simple ne fait pas justice à un des sujets qui restent parmi les sujets les plus fascinants et riches pour une histoire du XXe siècle.

Ce compte-rendu (ne) sera (pas) publié dans Témoigner entre Histoire et Mémoire.

  1.  BECKER Annette. Les cicatrices rouges : 14-18, France et Belgique occupées. Paris, Éd. Fayard, 2010, 373 p. []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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Making a virtual encyclopedia – Part Two


Screenshot of the website (20 January 2012)
Screenshot of the website (20 January 2012)

No doubt, 14-18-online will be a big encyclopedia: they plan more than 500 long articles and more than 1000 encyclopedical smaller articles (about 10 000 pages).1 But will it be more, as among others John Horne asked during a two-day workshop dedicated to the project?

After  listening to several historians and IT-specialists, some points remain unclear:

  • I still do not see the link between technology and history. At the moment, the plan is to write “printable” texts that are published on the web, after being adapted by the staff hired for the project. But I have somehow the impression that writing immediately for the web implies a different form of composing an argument: the text should/can/must (?) be less linear. One of the numerous problems, which Wikipedia has not resolved either, is how to deal with article-hopping, which happens quite often thanks to the hyperlinks.
  • Secondly, as a classic printed encyclopedia, 14-18-online is a very closed project. The licence is at the moment quite restrictive. Neither on the technological nor on the “content” side of the project has there been given much thought on how to integrate not planned content. I could for example imagine working with my students on “World War One in Luxembourg” and assess them on editing and writing posts for 14-18-online: today Wikipedia gets a lot of content this way.2
  • Thirdly and this is related to the aforementioned point, the refusal to think about user interaction is very problematic. Academics still seem to see readers mainly as passive users. Wikipedia proves them wrong. I know that a lot of people are quite sceptical on a collaboration with lay historians and the general public in general – I was even struck how much scholars still have reticences on publishing on the net – but this is one of the paradigm of successful publishing on the net.

I hope we will at least find partial solutions to these questions for 2014.3

During the workshop, Annette Becker told me about the Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence. This is probably the worst virtual encyclopedia I have seen so far because if the content is, as far as I am able to judge, written by THE specialist in the field, there seems to be no reflection at all on the medium used to transmit the message.

  1. The German reference encyclopaedia has 26 overview articles and 650 lemmatas on 1000 pages: Hirschfeld, Gerhard, Gerd Krumeich, and Irina Renz, eds. Enzyklopädie Erster Weltkrieg. Paderborn: Schöningh, 2003.  []
  2. Wikipedia has even a page dedicated to these projects, entitled School and university projects. []
  3. I am associated to the project as a section editor for France, Germany and Belgium together with Christoph Cornelissen and Nicolas Beaupré. []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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Making a virtual encyclopaedia on World War One

The planned logo of the encyclopaedia

This week I am invited to a workshop organised by a project entitled 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War. Under the direction of Oliver Janz from the Freie Universität Berlin, a team of international historians will try to establish the leading encyclopaedia on the topic. The goal is to have a finished product for the centenarian commemoration of the First World War in 2014. It is the third time that I participate at a dictionary on the history of the Grande Guerre1 but the first one that it is immediately built for the internet. Till today the only virtual encyclopaedia I am using regularly is Wikipedia, which defines itself as a “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”2. The project of 1914-1918-online is quite different. As in a classic printed encyclopaedia, the authors are chosen by an editorial board. As for the the copyright of the content, I have no idea, which model Oliver Janz has in his mind. I am quite curious how the editors will implement the “virtuality” of the encyclopaedia. At the moment I am quite sceptical because they are asking quite long articles (up to 7 500 characters), which nobody will read on the net. And we did get no instructions on how to implement the possibilities offered by internet. The printed encyclopaedia seems still to be the ideal type.

Besides Wikipedia, there are two other german virtual encyclopaedia, which I use sometimes: Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte and European History Online (EGO). Both are graphically nice, but not very adapted to the internet because the interaction with the reader is very limited. One of the most important elements of successful products on the web is the blurring of the frontiers between readers and authors who become users. Neither EGO nor Docupedia gives the possibility to “like” (Facebook), “tweet” or “+1” (Google) an article. Contrary to Docupedia, EGO does not even allow comments. The texts are normally quite long, links to other resources on the net are rare and they do not make use of  image, sound and video possibilities.

In a recent article on the use by students of historicum.net, a german history webpage, which defines itself as a platform for students and people interested in history, Schmitt and Kowski underline the following points. The first problem of historicum.net is the low level of awareness of the existence of the platform. How can an academic site compete with Wikipedia? The missing linking between the articles was a second point that was often criticised. Finally students – are they the main public of 1914-19148-online? – prefer small, introductory texts to long articles. Internet is still only used as an introduction to a topic not as the main resource. Interestingly “facebook-functionalities” were not a priority demand.3.

If you have some examples of successful academic encyclopaedias, please let me know in the comments.

  1. Hirschfeld, Gerhard, KRUMEICH, Gerd, RENZ, Irina Hg., Enzyklopädie Erster Weltkrieg, Paderborn, Schöningh, 2003 and LE NAOUR, Jean-Yves, Dictionnaire de la Grande Guerre, Paris, Larousse, 2008 []
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page 12-1-2012 []
  3. Schmitt, Christine, and Nicola Kowski. “Zwischen Handbuch und ‘Facebook’ – was erwarten Studierende von einem geschichtlichen Fachportal?” Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 62, no. 11/12 (2011): 655-668. []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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