Although the Second World War tends to loom larger in memory and popular media, the First World War significantly shaped history and still informs our thinking and actions today. We will go back in time to examine the events of the summer of 1914, and discuss the enthusiasm that so many in Europe expressed when the war broke out. We’ll analyze the primary causes of the war and trace some of the major military, social and economic developments that unfolded over its four years, both at the front and at home.
Fall lecture series
100th Anniversary of the Armistice
100th Anniversary of the Armistice: "Over There": Music and the First World War
Music played a major but often overlooked role in the First World War. The conflict inspired and popularized songs for every occasion, including the heart-tugging “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” the jaunty “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and the moving “Danny Boy.” Canadian troops headed to Europe sang “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now.” For escapism, crowds flocked to the hit London musical Chu Chin Chow, a spectacle based partly on “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” which ran for a record-breaking five years. We’ll explore the range of music that comforted and stirred an era.
Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2014.
100th Anniversary of the Armistice: Newfoundland and Beaumont-Hamel: The Politics of Commemoration
On July 1, 1916, the Newfoundland Regiment suffered a tragic defeat at Beaumont-Hamel, part of the larger Anglo-French Somme offensive. Of the roughly 780 soldiers who advanced that day, 670 were killed or wounded. The loss came as a major shock to Newfoundland, then a country of 250,000 people, which had not had a standing army since 1870. Immediately, politicians, veterans organizations and the media used the tragedy as an opportunity to channel popular shock into commemoration rather than calls for justice, and into patriotism rather than anger. We will focus on the reactions to Beaumont-Hamel within Newfoundland, and the politics that the event engendered during the rest of the war and onward.
100th Anniversary of the Armistice: Woodrow Wilson and the Creation of a New World Order
The First World War was a catastrophe, but what of the peace? In the fall of 1918, Germany asked U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to mediate Germany's surrender based on his proposals for postwar peace, the Fourteen Points. But as we’ll examine, for the Paris peacemakers to agree to a new collective world order and the League of Nations, Wilson had to abandon other key objectives and compromise his Fourteen Points. Although Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an antagonistic U.S. Senate refused to join the League or ratify the Treaty of Versailles. America withdrew again into isolationism, abandoning Europe to fascism, authoritarianism and, tragically, another war.
How will I learn?
- Discussion (may vary from class to class)
- Audio and/or video clips
Textbooks and learning materials
Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class.