Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dadaism and Artistic Protest of World War I

There is a slight change to our next event: the next talk will be held March 4 at 1:00 pm in Art Center room 102 and will feature a presentation by Interior Design student Christopher M. Cooper. 

Mr. Cooper is a Senior and McNair Scholar working with Dr. Kathleen Desmond at UCM.  He will give a presentation on Dadaism and the creation of works of art that served as forms of protest against the atrocities of World War I.  By rebelling against the artistic standards and traditions, Dadaists employed 'absurdist' principles to counteract the seemingly 'logical' nature war, and violence in general, had assumed in human cultures.  This rejection of societal norms redefined what constitutes art, giving new space to creativity and political commentary in the art world.

 Poster designed by Amy Price and used with her permission.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Programming Change

Please note that the first event of the spring originally scheduled for this Thursday (Feb. 12)  has been cancelled. 

The talk has been rescheduled for April 23, 2015, at 6:00 pm in Twomey Auditorium.  Dr. Jessica Cannon will present "Our Boys in French Blue: Missouri Flyboys in the Lafayette Escadrille."  The talk is based on her current research on two local Missouri men who joined the war effort in 1914 by enlisting with French units.  Like many early American volunteers, their service began in the ambulance corps and the Foreign Legion, but quickly took them towards the exciting new weapon of war: the airplane.  The talk will discuss the broader context and propaganda significance of aviation developments in World War I by exploring the experiences and post-war lives of these two men.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

December 2 Student Research Panel

Our last event of the fall semester is an undergraduate student research panel on December 2 at 6:00 pm in Twomey Auditorium.  Please come support our history students, who will be presenting research they have completed this fall in the Writing in the Social Sciences class.  Each student will speak for roughly 15 minutes, to be followed with a question-and-answer session.  There will be four students participating, and they will speak to a range of World War I-era topics:

Jordan Lockwood is a Senior majoring in Social Studies Education; he will present on Belgium's experiences during World War I.  Although existing international agreements recognized Belgium as a neutral nation, Germany's war plans dictated a quick defeat of France in order to avoid fighting a two-front war against France and Russia at the same time.  Standing in the way of that plan was Belgium, since the main route of invasion to capture Paris and bypass French defenses was through Belgium.  Mr. Lockwood will discuss Belgian experiences during the German invasion and occupation, how those experiences influenced Great Britain's decision to enter the war, and how Belgium fared at Versailles in the peace talks at the end of the war.

Michael Gawlick is a Junior working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.  His research focuses on France during the war, showing how the influx of colonial soldiers and immigrant workers to French industry helped sustain the French war effort.  Moreover, the development of French weapons--like the 75mm gun and the Renault tank--allowed the French, with the assistance of the allies, to sustain their nation throughout the long war despite suffering significant losses in men and materiel.

Marty Kankey is a Senior majoring in Social Studies Education.  Ms. Kankey's research examines the roles of women in the allied cause, including those who served in the Navy as "Yeomanettes," those that went to Europe to serve as nurses and ambulance drivers, as well as women who participated in the war effort on the home front by planting victory gardens, producing equipment, and assisting with Red Cross and Liberty Loan drives.

Chad Dangler is a Senior majoring in History with a minor in Anthropology.  His project focuses on the Gallipoli Campaign and the British decision to open another front in Turkey near the Dardanelles Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea (and ultimately the Mediterranean Sea).  This straight was a vital connection for Russia, Britain's ally, as it represented the only warm-water port for moving goods into or out of Russia.  The region was also important to British long-term interests in the Middle East and protecting the Suez Canal and British territory in Egypt.

We hope to see you on December 2 at 6:00 pm to hear our students present their research!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Announcing Our Spring Line-up!

I am excited to announce our line-up for the spring semester: there will be a variety of topics and formats to begin 2015, including several with connections to local history.  We are still working on a few things that may be added for the spring, and remember you can now check the schedule of events using the link at the top of the page.  We hope you will join us for these commemorative talks and events!

March 3, 1:00 pm Art Center 102.
Dr. Kathy Desmond will lead an interactive discussion "How the First World War Changed the Art World."  In many ways, World War I turned European culture, and to a lesser extent American culture, on its head, completely redefining how artists thought about the world around them.  One major shift that began in the nineteenth century but that accelerated because of the war was the turn toward modernism, which offered an entirely new set of artistic expressions and commentaries on the industrializing world. 

March 24, 7:00 pm in Towmey Auditorium.
Sarah Craig, a graduate student in the History master's program and the Program Assistant in the Office of Sponsored Programs & Research Integrity at UCM, will present "The Hun in the Heartland: Anti-German Sentiment in Missouri During World War I" based on her thesis research.  Missouri's significant German heritage survived the World Wars, despite national efforts to 'Americanize' many ethnic groups from 'belligerent' nations, so come learn how German-Americans persevered during World War I.

April 8, 12:00 pm (location will be posted closer to the event).
 Dr. Delia Gillis will present "'Close Ranks,' but 'We Return Fighting': African Americans and World War I."  Her talk will examine the debate on African American participation in the war and their experiences abroad as well as on the home front.  It will also include discussions of soldiers like Henry Johnson, Wayne Minor, Homer Roberts, and Homer "Jap" Eblon, who were key in developing the 18th and Vine district in Kansas City and were early leaders in the Civil Rights struggle in the region.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New website features!

Check out the new navigation bar on the website!  (It's just below the title.)  Now you can access resources more easily when you visit this site.  The upcoming events schedule and other informational sections each have their own links.

The website also features a new bibliography with suggestions for further reading on a variety of World War 1 topics, and an online resource listing too.  Both sections will continue to be updated as new resources and books are published.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Dangers of the Battlefield...One Hundred Years Later

 By the late fall of 1914--basically around this time 100 years ago--the final flanking maneuvers in the race to the North Sea were solidifying a line of trenches from the Belgian Coast to Switzerland.  Stretching some 440 miles, the tactical and strategic goals of every subsequent campaign to regain (or alternately to hold) territory along the trenches of the Western Front would demand the use of artillery to try to dislodge or destroy enemy fortifications.  The demand for artillery shells was insatiable; for most of 1914 and early 1915 neither side could produce shells in sufficient quantity (in the millions) to prevent shortages on the front.  In the haste to ramp up production of this critical war materiel, everything from miscalculating the quantity of powder to poor-quality chemicals, fuses, or metal ultimately resulted in about a quarter of all artillery shells failing to detonate when fired.

Moving forward in time to the present, undetonated shells still represent a constant danger for farmers and individuals working, or simply walking, in and around the battlefields and military posts of World War I.  And those shells are still taking lives.

While it may be difficult to grasp the dangers of these shells individually, since we tend to think of them inadvertently going off one or two at a time, let's pause for a second to talk about the Battle of Messines that began on 7 June 1917.  British soldiers labored over eighteen months to dig 21 mine shafts across no-man's land and under German positions along the Messines Ridge.  Each shaft was filled with thousands of pounds of explosives (the largest containing some 41 tons), with the plan to detonate all the mines at 3:10 am just prior to a massed infantry assault (comprising nine divisions) and a creeping artillery barrage to provide cover for the advance.  Only 19 mines were detonated, but they killed some 10,000 men almost instantly and allowed the British assault to achieve its initial tactical objectives within three hours.  So what about the other two mines?

The British told Belgian authorities that with all the German counter-mining going on, and the devastation caused by the massive explosion of the other mines, that they were no longer certain where the two missing tunnels (and the explosives in them) were located.  One was found on 17 June 1955 near Le Pelerin when lightning struck nearby electrical pylons (erected in the 1950s) and set off the explosives in the ground beneath it.  The other mine is still under the Belgian countryside somewhere south of Ypres....

A recent article about the dangers of unexploded ordnance along the Ypres front highlights the ongoing concern for how to safely locate and remove these explosives and serves as a good reminder for our next talk on November 6.  Please come out to Twomey Auditorium on Nov. 6 at 6:00 pm to learn about efforts to preserve the battlefields, deal with unexploded shells, and address the public history questions and civic responsibilities that surround efforts to commemorate the First World War.

One of craters produced by the Messines mines. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nov. 6: Public History, Preservation, and Commemoration Efforts in Europe and the U.S.

Tonight's talk by Dr. Tenbus was a great success, and we were pleased to see around 100 people in attendance.  Thank you for coming out!

Our next talk will be at 6:00 pm on November 6 in Twomey Auditorium--please note the time shift as this differs from previous talks.

Dr. Abbie Grubb, a professor of history at San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas, will be joining us to present "Poppies on Parade: The Preservation and Commemoration of WWI Sites on the Centennial of the Great War."  Her talk will have a public history focus: she will examine the ongoing efforts to preserve WWI battlefields in Europe and offer a comparative analysis of commemoration efforts in the United States.  She will also address some of the obstacles to preservation efforts for the battlefields, including unexploded ordnance, urban development, and competing visions for interpretation.  Undergraduate and graduate students considering careers in public history are especially encouraged to attend.