"The Myth of the Great War". An international conference at University of Pennsylvania

Paris, 1919
It's pretty well known how the "Great War" got its name, already during the conflict. What is interesting is that we find this expression in many languages ("Grande Guerra", "Grande Guerre" etc.). On the other side, it's obvious that expressions like "World War One" or "First World War" make more sense beside expressions like "World War Two" or "Second World War". A simple question that rises is this: what made the 14-18 "European" war, the Great War, a real "World War"? For sure we cannot forget that Japanese, Australian or African people fought in this war and that was really the first five continents's war, but a very big quake was the entry of the United States in 1917 and the relevance of their position during the 1919 Paris peace conference - someone spoke about this conference as a kind of "truce" with the expiration date. For the great relevance of the United States in the Twentieth century global geopolitics after the Paris conference, it's always interesting to see what's going on there in the publishing industry, in the academic world and in the general debate about the Great War, especially when they look outside the United States. Today we would like to give evidence to an international conference at University of Pennsylvania. The title seems borrowed from a very popular book by the Italian historian Mario Isnenghi (Il mito della Grande Guerra).

The Myth of the Great War
An International Conference

An international interdisciplinary conference on "The Myth of the Great War" will be held April 24-25, 2014, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. The conference is organized by Fabio Finotti, Chris Poggi, Jonathan Steinberg, and Luca Badini Confalonieri with the collaboration of the Italian Embassy in Washington DC, and the Consulate General of Italy in Philadelphia, and it will be hosted by the Center for Italian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Before being a reality, war is a creation of the imagination, a legendary elaboration of the past, a utopia for the future. From the Risorgimento to Fascism, the myth of war always preceded military confrontations, painted them with its own colors, and transfigured them in different ways. State religion gave war a holy character, made it the locus of the consecration of lay martyrs and the foundational event of civic rites. The celebration of progress, of the machine, of Darwinian selection, presented war as the apotheosis of futurist modernity. The dream of a collectivity without hierarchies painted war as fusion of the intellectuals with the people and as fraternal experience. Different ideas of war gave rise to different ways to represent and remember it. The conference will not examine war only as symbolic form of socio-political language but also as poetic, artistic, musical, and cinematographic language.

250 word proposals and a brief vita (no cv please!) should be submitted to italians@sas.upenn.edu by February 20, 2014.

Further information here.