Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New postgraduate courses are changing our views of the First World War / "The Guardian" March 4, 2014

Aleksandra's Note: Serbs in the homeland and throughout the world should pay attention and take note of how each participant in World War One is planning to mark and honor the Centennial of the Great War.


Aleksandra Rebic


The Guardian
Stephen Hoare
March 4, 2014

From a new master's [degree] to a phone app, British universities celebrate the centenary of the first world war

An Australian wearing a First World War uniform walks past graves
at the Australian War Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux on Anzac Day.
Photograph: Getty Images
History departments up and down the country are mobilising as preparations for the date Britain declared war on Germany on 3 August 1914, get under way with a series of public events, exhibitions and a new master's degree.

"The popular history of the war has been stuck in a rut for the past 30 years," says William Philpott, professor of warfare at King's College London.

Kings College London, which covers the first world war in its MAs in war studies and the history of warfare, is rolling out a series of public and academic events over the next five years.

Meanwhile, the University of Birmingham has parked its tanks on the lawn with a hard-hitting public lecture series to run throughout the year.

"The first world war is a controversy that will never go away. Even today, the politics of the Middle East are still dictated by decisions made by European powers during the great war," says Dr Jonathan Boff, course leader on the University of Birmingham's MA in British first world war studies.

In April, the universities of Kent and Southampton, in association with the Imperial War Museum, are staging a conference, The Great War and the Moving Image.

And the history department at Queen Mary, University of London, has developed a "teaching trail", with links to relevant courses and a mobile phone app highlighting sites in London associated with the first world war.

The conflict still has the power to polarise public opinion. "It's a pity the politicians have got involved because the causes and effects of the war have strayed into the area of party political point scoring," says professor Mark Connelly, military historian at the University of Kent.

The University of Kent will be launching a new master's degree in first world war studies in 2015. Connelly says: "There are still plenty of significant centenaries coming up.

"1915 saw the second battle of Ypres, Gallipoli and Loos, a very nasty little battle and a great demographic disaster for the people of east Kent. The Buffs [Royal East Kent regiment] got ripped up pretty badly in that battle."

Kent's new MA will include field trips to the Flanders Fields museum in Ypres to study the impact of battlefield tourism in the 1920s and 30s and interdisciplinary studies involving the departments of drama and modern languages.

It seems that there is still much more to learn about a conflict fought on land, sea and air and across major continents. "People forget that this was not just about Britain and the western front. Virtually the whole of Europe and the Middle East was dragged into the war," says Philpott.

"I completed my MA in first world war studies at the University of Birmingham and decided to do a PhD there in 2012. I'm investigating how the British army in the first world war adapted its way of fighting to different conditions and different geographies.

"Studying how a complex organisation learns in a time of crisis has relevance to today's large organisations that are undergoing major change.

"I have a very personal connection that influenced me to pursue an academic career in this field. My great grandfather, William Rossall, a lance corporal in the Machine Gun Corps was killed in 1917 and his brother Timothy Rossall, a private in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, died in 1921 from wounds received in the war.

"I was 13 years old when my great aunt gave me photographs and letters they had sent home. It was a very tangible link with the past."



If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at heroesofserbia@yahoo.com


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