Conference Seminar: “Not So Quiet on the Eastern Front: New Directions in WWI Studies” at annual German Studies Association (GSA) conference in Denver, October 3-6, 2013

Application Deadline: 1 February 2013

With the centenary of the First World War approaching, German Studies scholars are busy reconsidering the impact of the Great War on the modern world. Not since the Fischer Controversy has the drive to re-evaluate this war among scholars of modern Germany been so great. This seminar will focus on emergent scholarship in this arena with two main goals: firstly, showcasing the new areas of WWI scholarship that junior scholars are producing and then secondly, contextualizing that scholarship within larger scholarly debates by engaging in cross-generational conversations about how and why scholarship on the Great War continues to be paramount in understanding the trajectory of not just German, but also European, history.

In recent years, scholars seem to have re-discovered the “eastern front” of the First World War. For nearly a century, the history and cultural study of Europe’s Great War has focused on the Western Front. From analyses of war poetry, novels, and paintings created by veterans (Remarque, Dix, Grosz) to books about trench warfare and “total war” (at Verdun and the Somme) to studies of POWs and forced labour – the war as it was planned, fought, and lost between France, England and Germany has been at the center of scholarly studies of the Central Powers in World War I. This seminar will provide a forum to focus on the Eastern Front in the Great War and in doing so will simultaneously challenge participants to broaden their conceptions of what is traditionally included in the categories of “combatants”, “war fronts”, and “Central Powers. For too long, not only has the Western front dominated scholarship on the Great War, but so too has detailing the experiences of Germany and Germans dominated research on the “Central Powers”. Thus, this seminar brings not just the Eastern Front into focus, but also seeks to broaden our knowledge of the Central Powers to include the wartime effort and experiences of non-Germans -- Austro-Hungarians, Ottoman Turks, Slavs and other ethnic or religious minorities under occupation, and Balkan and Southeastern Europeans caught in eastern battle zones –while also understanding how these studies contribute to our understanding the history of the Great War in Germanophone Europe.

Our goal is to go beyond simply showcasing new research – a somewhat more traditional “panel series” could easily accomplish this. Rather, we will create three theme-based “seminar modules” which would be fora for new and established scholars to discuss individual “eastern front” projects and their impacts on the field of WWI Studies more generally. In each module, 3-4 scholars will pre-circulate a 5-8 page position paper (due 1 Sept 2013) outlining how their research changes our perception of the First World War in the Central Powers as well as how it changes perceptions or interpretations of one of the following: the Eastern Front, the relationship between the Central Powers and Imperial Russia/Soviet Union, or the relationships between ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe between 1914-1922. Seminar participants will read all position papers and attend all seminar modules thus creating continuity of discussion over the three day period. Moreover, as a “bonus incentive” seminar participants will be invited to submit chapter length versions of their projects to the seminar organizers (Heather Perry, UNC Charlotte; Emre Sencer, Knox College; John Steinberg, Georgia Southern) for publication consideration in the forthcoming publication which they are currently putting together: The Central Powers on the Russian Fronts, Volume VIII of Russia’s Great War and Revolution, 1914-1922 (Slavica Publishers, forthcoming 2014-2018).

We encourage all submissions related to the experience and attitudes of those caught in the Eastern Front zones during the war and its aftermath.  Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Occupation regimes
Soldiers & civilians
POW experiences
Violence against civilians
Gender and Power
Medical Care
Ethnic and/or Religious Conflict in the Borderlands
Memory and Identity
Stabilization after the war

Those who wish to submit a proposal should fill out the GSA Seminar Application Form and email by 1 February 2013 it to the Seminar Coordinator for this session, Suzanne Marchand at [log in to unmask] In addition to other information, the form asks for a brief statement of purpose. It should describe the participant’s qualifications and planned contribution to the seminar.  You can find the application form and other information at

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Heather R. Perry, Ph.D. | Associate Professor of History
UNC Charlotte | Dept. of History, 226 Garinger
9201 University City Blvd. | Charlotte, NC 28223
Phone: 704-687-3976| Fax: 704-687-3218
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