An initiative with roots stemming from the “Anglophonie: Communautés, Écritures” Laboratory of the University Rennes 2 (ACE, France) and the Royal Military College of Canada (Kingston), the War Memories research initiative is pleased to announce that the momentum will carry-on to the third biennial conference, set to take place in June 2018. The third gathering will build upon the foundations set forth by discussions during the previous conferences.
The first conference was organized in conjunction with the events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the First World War, and served as a continuity of the seminal symposium in May 2010 organized in collaboration with the Caen Memorial at the University of Caen-Basse Normandie. Following the international symposium in June 2014 at the University Rennes 2, collaborative work emerged which discussed media attention, and the spectacularization, interpretation and re-writing of the events surrounding the wars. The second gathering was held in 2016 at the University of Paris-Diderot, with focused discussions regarding the identification of memories with a special attention to the Second World War, locations of memory spaces and media attention. The collaborative work highlighting these discussions is currently being prepared.
The third gathering will be held in Jun 2018 at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. This symposium will encourage discussions surrounding the symbols used to represent the physical and moral injuries endured by individuals as a result of war. The way different conflicts define, tailor, and possibly even distort military culture through societies and through the ages will also be discussed.
One of the major advances of modern times is illuminated by the literary representations heightened by the experiences and consequences of war, the terror produced by the conflicts and the dehumanization that cannot be disassociated with armed conflicts. Heart of Darkness by Conrad, Feu de Barbuse, or even Orages d’acier by Jünger, are all milestone pieces that initiate us to the representations of the marks these resonances make on contemporary societies’ imagination, to the point where it becomes normal for many of these representations to be referenced when discussing the violence that was endured by individuals. Before the commemorations of military glory, the symbols and representations used in literature to convey the impact of war involved trauma and injuries; artistic and semantic pieces of literature were pushed away in order to avoid expressing and representing the main themes for modern wars. It is the tension between the indescribable experiences and the outrageous representations that will be discussed as the primary topic of this symposium.
It is the movement towards honorable commemorations (Born on the 4th of July by Stone, Les Fragments d’Antonin by Le Bomin, etc.) and the representation of the lack of care that will become the second branch of topics to be discussed during the symposium. The dehumanization of suffering goes beyond the discussion of denunciation, because the act of commemoration, even if done with honor, is in itself a celebration. Therefore, the representation of the young dismembered or dislocated body becomes a manifestation of the glory of handicaps; a broken spirit, an occasion to celebrate the survival or combat. Thus, the wars of the past and present become the objects of new representations; having lived through violence becomes fully expressed through its representation of decrepitude. Moreover, the representations of the wars of the past is molding the way todays’ actors of war are portraying their testimonies or other representations of their own experiences.
Our work may fall under many themes, but will revolve around the following ideas:
– War narratives and features on literature (theater, novels, poetry, etc.)
– Visual, television, film (fiction and non-fiction), musical, media and artistic representations of war
– Injuries, trauma, handicaps associated with the phenomenon’s of war and terrorism (testimonies of soldiers, lives of the survivors, social and political charges, management of handicaps and reintegration into society, …)
– Memories, war memories, and memory space and locations (monuments, ceremonies, history books, questions about personal and collective identity during times of war and the process of recalling and commemoration); wars and memories of war surrounding the experiences of minorities and/or the aboriginal people (Gurkhas, Aboriginal of North America or Australia, Maoris, etc.) and of Non-English speaking nation (Afrikaners, etc.) and their participation in word conflicts.