Media Histories of World War I
The seminar takes place on Zoom, 24 March, 17.00-19.00 CET.
When registered you will be sent a zoom link for the meeting two days prior to the event.
The Great War has been described by scholars as a “matrix of modern media” (Joëlle Beurier, 2005) that played an unprecedented role in both entertaining and informing wartime audiences, from soldiers at the front lines to civilians on the home front. Photographs and drawings reproduced in the press and on postcards, fiction films and newsreels, magic lantern slides, illustrated mural posters, and musical recordings were all eagerly consumed by audiences worldwide and significantly shaped how contemporaries understood and experienced the war, both affectively and ideologically. Three speakers will be discussing the use of mass media during the war. They will focus on cinema, music and lantern slides respectively.
Emma Hanna – Sounds of War: Music in the British Armed Forces During the Great War.
Comparatively little is known about the musical cultures of the British armed forces during the Great War. In this paper, Emma Hanna will examine music’s vital presence in a range of military contexts including military camps, ships, aerodromes and battlefields, canteen huts, hospitals and PoW camps. She will show that music was omnipresent in servicemen’s wartime existence and was a vital element for the maintenance of morale, how music was utilised to stimulate recruitment and fundraising, for diplomatic and propaganda purposes, and for religious, educational, and therapeutic reasons. Music was not in any way ephemeral, it was unmatched in its power to cajole, console, cheer and inspire during the conflict and its aftermath, and Emma Hanna will show that music is a vital element in our understanding of the wartime realities in the British armed forces during the Great War.
Emma Hanna is a Lecturer in the School of History, University of Kent. She is the author of The Great War on the Small Screen: Representing the First World War in Contemporary Britain (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) and Sounds of War: Music in the British Armed Forces During the Great War (Cambridge University Press, 2020), and a Co-Investigator on two major research projects: Gateways to the First World War (AHRC, 2014-2019) and Reflections on the Centenary of the First World War: Learning & Legacies for the Future (AHRC, 2017-2020).
Veronica Johnson – “On the edge of Europe, in the centre of Empire: Ireland and cinema in World War One”
In 1914 Ireland on the edge of Europe is apart from the war - battles are never fought on Irish soil, the focus in the country is on domestic affairs and cultural revival. At the same time is is a part of the conflict - Irish men sign up to join the British Army and fight in the Great War, Dublin is a major city in the British Empire, the focal point of British rule in Ireland. This distinctive position of being on the edge of Europe and in the centre of Empire gives Ireland a unique experience of filmmaking and film consumption during World War One. Filmmaking leans towards representing Ireland on the edge of Europe as a romantic and historical place. The cinema landscape in Ireland reflected the war, war films were screened and commented upon in the newspapers, Irish involvement in the war was emphasised. This presentation examines how Ireland’s distinctive position on the edge of Europe and in the centre of Empire influences filmmaking and film consumption during the Great War.
Veronica Johnson teaches film studies at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her research centres on early and silent cinema with a focus on The Film Company of Ireland (1916-1920)
Jason Bate – “Rebuilding ex-servicemen with the lantern: The Royal Society of Medicine and the Pensions Ministry, 1914-1919”
This paper revisits the projection services of the Royal Society of Medicine and Ministry of Pensions in First World War Britain. I consider the government’s rehabilitation schemes for disabled ex-servicemen and the community participations they fostered, which raised sensitivity to local concerns and unleashed expectations about collective sentiment and intensified discussion about the employability of war pensioners. I argue that more can be said about the relationship and intersections between photography, the magic lantern and cinematography as integrated fields of technologies, systems, and artefacts. Finally, I consider a theoretical question about the relationship between old and new technologies and their connections to both continuity and rupture in media change.
Jason Bate is a lecturer in the practices and histories of photography at Falmouth University, UK. His current research explores photographic and lantern practices of the First World War, focusing in particular on the significance that photographers’ interactions with other media and technologies had on the production of ways of recovering from the war. He has published in titles including Visual Culture of Britain, History and Technology, Social History of Medicine, and Science Museum Group Journal.
The seminar is moderated by Brett Bowles (Indiana University) and Lees Engelen (LUCA School of Arts & University of Antwerp). Please contact them directly should you wish to know further details or have any queries about this event.
About the IAMHIST seminars: In 2021 IAMHIST will be organising a series of online media history seminars. These seminars are informal online events enabling early career as well as advanced scholars to share and discuss their research and expertise. The seminars will take place via Zoom and after registration are open to all free of charge. Links to register for individual seminars will be circulated a month prior to the event date via Eventbrite.