CfP: Ireland, Wales & the First World War

History, Myth, and Cultural Memory
An Interdisciplinary Conference hosted by the Wales-Ireland Research Network

September 10-12, 2014, Cardiff University

2014 will see the beginning of numerous centenary events seeking to commemorate the United Kingdom’s experience of First World War (1914-1918).Yet such commemoration is never straightforward or uncontested. The cultural memory of the lives lost in the war has itself been a continuing source of conflict and debate. While many of the commemorative events of 2014 will focus on a centralised, British view of the war, this interdisciplinary conference will offer an opportunity to examine the war from distinctively Welsh and/or Irish perspectives, focusing attention on the ways in which cultural memories, memorials, and mythologies are constructed in contested national contexts.

The contrasts as well as the similarities between the experiences of the war in Wales and Ireland are revealing. We welcome papers examining, for example, the differing meanings and memories of the events of 1916 in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales; the literary and artistic responses to the war: for example, the poetry of Robert Graves, W. B. Yeats, Katharine Tynan, David Jones, Edward Thomas, Hedd Wyn, and Francis Ledwidge, the latter two, Welsh and Irish respectively, killed on the same day in the battle of Passchendaele; fiction, diaries, letters, and memoirs by figures as various as Joseph Keating, Gwen John, Stephen Gwynn, Kate Roberts, and Arthur Machen; the nature of the war memorials, ceremonies, and popular views of the war in the two nations and in Northern Ireland; gendered aspects of the discourse and imagery of war; the contentious role of Lloyd George in both nations; the influence of religion on attitudes towards the war in the two nations; contrasts and similarities in popular responses to the war in Irish and Welsh newspapers; creative uses of inherited memories, such as Michael Longley’s poems about his father’s war experiences or Siân James’s novel A Small Country, about the women left behind in rural Wales during the war.

Confirmed plenary speakers:

Sir Deian Hopkin, Dr Mary-Ann Constantine, Dr Paul O’Leary

Papers of 20-25 mins. duration are invited in fields such as History, Literature, Art History, Cultural Studies, Geography, Film and Media, Critical Theory, Gender Studies, Women’s Studies, etc. Comparative approaches are particularly welcome. Please send a title, abstract of c. 300 words and brief biography by email to the organizer by February 1st, 2013:

The Wales-Ireland Research Network is run jointly by Prof. Claire Connolly (Cork), Dr Paul O’Leary (Aberystwyth), and Prof. Katie Gramich (Cardiff).

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