Already before World War One, wars around the globe were increasingly being monitored by intellectuals in Eastern Europe and served as topoi for artistic expression and media events due to the expansion of the newspaper market. Examples of such wars were the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902, the Russian-Japanese War 1904-05 and the wars at the south-eastern periphery of Europe between 1911 and 1913 (the Italo-Ottoman War and the two Balkan wars). During World War One, a vast number of critical assessments, planning literature and artistic expressions were produced in response to the new quality of warfare and the massive number of casualties. These responses were either patriotic or critical depending on the involvement of the individual intellectuals and artists. The disintegration of empires, a newly defined geopolitical order and socio-economic upheaval together with icreasing revolutionary sentiments in society and military clashes (like the wars of independence or clashes over the location of future borders that followed World War One) opened up a new and extremely diverse spectrum of views and positions. During the 1920s and 1930s – against the backdrop of new economic pressures in Central Europe due to the Great Depression and colonial or civil wars (in Spain and Ethiopia) – the position of intellectuals and artists remained polarized.
This historical setting is the starting point for the conference. From the perspective of intellectual history, art history, cultural studies, and philosophy, it raises the question of how intellectual and artistic reflection on war and violence developed before, during, and in the aftermath of World War One. A further aim of is to interpret war as a cultural topos that contributed to the institutionalization of certain social values, attitudes and roles. The conference looks at intellectual reflection, not as merely existing at the level of lofty theories, but rather as a social reality. For the eastern half of Europe (that is the Russian and the Ottoman Empires, Austria-Hungary and the new states of Southeast Europe), the conference will address the following questions within the panels:
- What were the motives for paying such close attention to wars in the first place? How did intellectuals and artists perceive, make sense of and react to the different wars of their time? Can we discern different mindsets (Denkstile) and/or biographical patterns among intellectuals and artists?
- How can we describe the language of justification, protest, rationalization, or escape of / from war? What visions for the future were attached to these ideas, what comparisons were made with the past? What utopias and dystopias were voiced in scientific, philosophical and artistic productions (literature, film, music) as well as in political writing?
- Did the media, the artistic production and the resulting have an impact on the emerging attitudes towards democracy and the societal value system? How were “new” values and societal norms like participation, minority protection, security or even the “new woman” reflected and re-interpreted in artistic production and in the media on-side ?
- Which forms of agency were involved? How would we interpret the involvement of individual intellectuals and artists in war propaganda, but also in commercialization and scientific war-related activities?
- How important was the changing media system and the development of new fora and forms for reflection on war? What were the common platforms and arenas that encouraged both groups to publicly reflect on war and violence? How can we describe the spill-over effects of literary reflection and scientific or artistic expression on politics and society?
If you would like to present at the conference, please send an abstract (up to 300 words) and a short biographical note to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 July 2019. We will notify you if your proposal has been accepted at the beginning of August 2019. Please specify which format of presentation is preferable to you. The conference language is English.
- Ulf Brunnbauer (Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Research / University of Regensburg)
- Ekaterina Cherepanova (Ural Federal University Ekaterinburg)
- Peter Haslinger (Herder Institute for Historical Research on Eastern Europe Marburg / Justus Liebig University Giessen)
- Heidi Hein-Kircher (Herder Institute for Historical Research on Eastern Europe Marburg)
- Maja Soboleva (Alpen Adria University Klagenfurt / Ural Federal University Ekaterinburg / Philipps University Marburg)
- Dirk Uffelmann (Passau University / Justus Liebig University Giessen)