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WWI series will shed light on Eastern Front experience

Thursday, October 15, 2015

LAWRENCE – The lesser-known stories of World War I’s Eastern Front will be the centerpiece of a lecture series at the University of Kansas. The program is part of KU’s World War I Centennial Commemoration, which is being coordinated by the European Studies Program to mark the 100th anniversary of the war.

Over the course of the academic year, the series, Everyday Lives on the Eastern Front, will bring four nationally recognized experts on WWI to campus to share original research. In addition to public lectures, speakers will explore these themes in workshops with undergraduate and graduate students and members of the community. The series launches next week with a discussion on medical advancements and perceptions of disability that the war brought about. 

The experience of World War I, particularly on its Eastern Front, shaped the modern world in ways that many people today may not realize. The Eastern Front was where the empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and the Ottomans collided and ultimately collapsed, giving rise to new states in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

While the Western Front was defined by trench warfare, the Eastern Front was longer and often porous. It shifted back and forth across civilian populations with dramatically transformative effects, affecting lives at the everyday level. In the region, the Great War was inseparable from revolution, undermining imperial allegiances, generating social and national movements, and changing attitudes about gender and authority.

“Recycling the Disabled: Army, Medicine and Modernity in the First World War” is the first lecture of the series. Heather Perry, associate professor of history at University of North Carolina-Charlotte, will examine the “medical organization” of Imperial Germany for total war. Perry will discuss how the pressures of modern industrial warfare transformed not only medical ideas and treatments for injured soldiers but also social and cultural expectations of the disabled body in Germany and other warring nations. The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at The Commons, Spooner Hall.

The remaining talks in the series are listed below:

  • “More than Binding Men’s Wounds: Women’s Wartime Nursing in Russia during the Great War,” presented by Laurie Stoff, Senior Honors Faculty Fellow, Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University. 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Commons.
  • “The Russian Army in the Great War: The Eastern Front, 1914-1917,” presented by David Stone, professor of strategy and policy, U.S. Naval War College. 7 p.m. Feb. 25, 2016, at the Hall Center for the Humanities.
  • “A Minor Apocalypse: Everyday Life in Warsaw during the First World War,” presented by Robert Blobaum, Eberly Professor of History, West Virginia University. 7 p.m. March 29 at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union.

The series and the KU WWI Centennial Commemoration are coordinated by the European Studies Program. KU co-sponsors are the Common Book program; Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies; Center for Global & International Studies; Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures; Department of History; Dole Institute of Politics; Hall Center for the Humanities; Humanities Program; Max Kade Center; Office of Graduate Military Programs; University Honors Program and University Press of Kansas. The Big XII Faculty Fellowship Program is also a sponsor.

More information about upcoming events is available on the European Studies website


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