The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities presents
The Intellectual and Literary History Public Seminar Series


Remembering the Great War between Truth and Reenactment

There has been a world of activity marking the Centennial of the outbreak of the First World War.  Much of it has been in the sphere of public commemoration.  I want to call attention to a particular kind of commemoration called reenactment, since its substantial growth over the last years presents an important challenge to what we historians do. 

In this lecture, I want to align reenactment with other kinds of commemorative and historical representations of war, and to try to persuade you that it is a dangerous and offensive form of historical and commemorative activity.  It is dangerous because it adds elements of excitement and adventure to contemporary notions of war.  It is offensive because it lacks respect for the hardship, the suffering, and the anguish of men in battle.  It betrays the men who fought by turning their combat service into what we now call infotainment. 

Jay Winter is the Charles J. Stille Professor of History emeritus at Yale University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre at the ANU.  He is the author of Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (1995) and War beyond words: Languages of remembrance from the Great War to the present (2017).  He is the editor of the Cambridge History of the First World War (2014), and won an Emmy award in 1997 as producer of the television series The Great War and the shaping of the twentieth century (BBC/PBS).  He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Graz, the Katholik University of Leuven, and the University of Paris, and in 2017 received the Victor Adler award from the Austrian state for a lifetime’s work in history.

Image: Photograph of Tannenberg reenactment.

4pm Thursday 17th October 2019
Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower
The University of Queensland, St Lucia

Please contact or 07 334 69492 for further details.
Find parking information here.

All welcome.


Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower, UQ St Lucia