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War Experiences and Memorial Culture in Europe, 1914 to the Present (HI954)

Module Leader:

Professor Christoph Mick


Context of Module
Module Aims
Intended Learning Outcomes
Outline Syllabus
Illustrative Bibliography
Context of Module:

This module may be taken by students on the MA in History, the MA in Modern History, the MA in Global History, or any taught Masters student outside the History Department.


Module Aims:

This module introduces students to the history of experience (“Erfahrungsgeschichte”) and familiarises them with concepts of collective memory and remembrance. The ways in which individuals, groups and nations tried to come to terms with experiences of war in the twentieth century and what shaped their different experiences and memories will be analysed. The focus of seminar discussions and core readings will be on both World Wars, but students will be able to explore a wider range of 20th- and 21st- century military conflicts in their assessed essays if they wish. The module has a comparative approach and will cover both Western and Eastern Europe/Russia. How do different cultural and social backgrounds prefigure war experiences and how are war, suffering and death memorialised? What do the different ways of memorialising the war tell us about nations and their national cultures? How different are war experiences and the memorialisation of war in and after the First and the Second World War?


Intended Learning Outcomes:

Students will explore how war experiences and memories are shaped by class, gender, and nationality. They will analyse and compare war experiences, the meaning and the remembering of death and war in Eastern and Western Europe (the focus is on France, Great Britain, Germany, Poland and Russia).


Outline Syllabus:

Seminar 1: Course overview: what shapes experiences and memories?

Seminar 2: Collective memory and memorial culture: Theories and methodological approaches

Seminar 3: War experiences in Eastern and Western Europe 1914 – 1921: class, gender, and nation

Seminar 4: Giving meaning to death: discourses on the war

Seminar 5: Memorial culture(s) after the Great War: monuments and remembrance

Seminar 6: War experiences 1939 – 1945: class, gender, and nation

Seminar 7: Successes and failures to give meaning to death after 1945

Seminar 8: Exhibiting the war: war museums and memorials

Seminar 9: Remembrance Day revisited: the memory of the World Wars in today’s Europe


Illustrative Bibliography:

Karel C. Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine under Nazi Rule (Cambridge Mass., London, 2004)

Joanna Bourke, Dismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain and the Great War (London, 1996)

Alon Confino, 'Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems of Method', American Historical Review, 102 (1997), pp. 1386-1403

Jenny Edkins, Trauma and the Memory of Politics (Cambridge, 2003)

Adrian Forty and Susanne Küchler (eds), The Art of Forgetting (Oxford, New York, 2001)

John R. Gillis (ed.), Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity (Princeton NJ, 1994)

Adrian Gregory, The Silence of Memory: Armistice Day, 1919-1946 (London, 1994)

Emma Hanna, The Great War on the Small Screen: Representing the First World War in Contemporary Britain (Edinburgh, 2009)

Konrad H. Jarausch and Michael Geyer (eds), Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories (Princeton, 2003)

Lyn MacDonald, 1914-18: Voices and Images of the Great War (London, 1991)

Catherine Merridale, Night of Stone – Death and Memory in Russia (London, 2000)

George L. Mosse, Fallen Soldiers. Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars(Oxford, 1994)

Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton, 2002)

Jay Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning. The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge, 1998)

Jay Winter, War and Remembrance in the 20th Century (Cambridge, 2000)

Benjamin Ziemann, Contested Commemorations. Republican War Veterans and Weimar Political Culture (Cambridge, 2013)


Assessed essay of 6,000 words and one optional unassessed essay of 2,500 words. The course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars.




Professor Christoph Mick

Term Spring
Tutorial Day Wednesday
Time 11am - 1pm
*Week 1 Wednesday, 11-1
Christoph Mick H3.31