Conference programme announced today

The provisional programme for February’s conference, ‘The First World War: Commemoration and Memory’, can finally be revealed.

Joining our three keynote speakers, Professor Jay Winter, Professor Maggie Andrews, and Dr Helen McCartney, will be scholars from four continents and a whole host of backgrounds, providing delegates with a diversity of approaches to the conference themes: from postgraduate students to Emeritus Professors, and from academia to the creative arts. The organising committee were delighted by the overwhelming response to the call for papers, and would like to thank all those who engaged with the topic and offered papers for consideration.

To view the conference programme, please visit the dedicated page on our website:

Further details on individual panels and papers will be released in due course, along with registration details for speakers and other delegates.

The First World War in 2014 -15: new commemoration projects, new public narratives?

Here is the abstract for Dr Helen McCartney’s keynote address, which will be delivered on Friday 26th February:

For the last few decades, British public scripts about the First World War have stressed horror and casualties leading to an interpretation that both the objectives of the war and the way in was prosecuted were futile.  Other meanings and interpretations were crowded out and the war was seen through a narrow, national lens.

The paper seeks to examine whether these familiar scripts and their omissions are being challenged or reinforced by new commemorative projects.  By analyzing a range of new projects from 2014 and 2015, including letter to the Unknown Soldier (2014), the Tower of London poppy installation (2014 -15) and British Gallipoli commemorations (2015), the paper will seek to establish how a variety of different local and national interest groups construct commemorative projects and interact with them.  It will argue that alongside the futility script is an opposing sacrificial narrative that stresses the debt owed for ‘freedom’ today. Neither of the public narratives is rooted in a complex understanding of the war and its issues and empathetic and emotional approaches to commemoration help to shape the emerging scripts.

Conference programme update

Due to the overwhelming response to our call for papers, and the high quality of the submissions received, the organising committee are delighted to announce that our one day symposium will now be a two day conference, with IWM North set to host an extra day of papers and discussion on Friday 26th February.

The provisional programme for both days will be announced shortly, along with registration details for those wishing to attend either or both days. However, in the meantime, we are proud to announce that Dr Helen McCartney (King’s College London) will be providing the keynote address for delegates on Friday 26th February. Full details on Dr McCartney’s paper will be issued in a separate post later.

Conference Programme Update

First of all, a huge, huge thank you to all those who submitted abstracts – and to those who assisted in spreading the word about our conference – the response has been exceptional.

The organising committee is now in the process of reviewing all submissions and will be meeting during the week ending Friday 14th August to finalise arrangements for the conference. We are fully aware of the needs of those intending to travel from overseas to make travel arrangements as quickly as possible, and we will endeavour to contact ALL applicants, both successful and unsuccessful, as soon as we can after this date.

The organising committee would like to thank you all for your patience during this period.