International Conference on “On the Periphery of the Great War”

organized by the
Centre of Languages, Literature and Cultures,
Venue:  Department of Languages and Cultures,
University of Aveiro, Portugal.
Date:  1st & 2nd October 2015


Now that the dust is settling on the commemorations of centenary of the outbreak of the 1st World War, it is time to reconsider long-held views about the particular shape and effect of this human-generated cataclysm.  One of these is the extent to which, say in comparison with the second great international conflict of the 20th century (1939-45), this truly was a world war. Most academic attention has rightly been focused on the situations on the western and eastern fronts of the conflict in Europe, and the unprecedented carnage which took place there. Indeed, even the popular imagination has no difficulty in conjuring up images of the trenches, of the disastrous collision of flesh and the new technologies of war, and the scale on which these collisions took place. Shock and trauma are testified to in all sorts of political, social and cultural domains, and recently explored in many academic conferences on these themes.

This conference however would like to hold at one remove these painfully familiar images and consider the periphery of the conflict.  It is interested in marginal theatres of war, in places where the conflict certainly had an impact but where perhaps that impact was glancing: people trapped in limbo by the war, the war as backcloth to other pressing personal concerns, the war (if this were at all possible) in the corner of people’s eye. These might be places where the war had a somewhat unreal tinge, far from the centre of hostilities but where hostilities nonetheless made themselves felt.