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The Edinburgh Companion to the First World War and the Arts

Edited by Ann-Marie Einhaus, Katherine Isobel Baxter

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A new exploration of literary and artistic responses to WW1 from 1914 to the present

This authoritative reference work examines literary and artistic responses to the war’s upheavals across a wide range of media and genres, from poetry to pamphlets, sculpture to television documentary, and requiems to war reporting. Rather than looking at particular forms of artistic expression in isolation and focusing only on the war and inter-war period, the 26 essays collected in this volume approach artistic responses to the war from a wide variety of angles and, where appropriate, pursue their inquiry into the present day. In 6 sections, covering Literature, the Visual Arts, Music, Periodicals and Journalism, Film and Broadcasting, and Publishing and Material Culture, a wide range of original chapters from experts across literature and the arts examine what means and approaches were employed to respond to the shock of war as well as asking such key questions as how and why literary and artistic responses to the war have changed over time, and how far later works of art are responses not only to the war itself, but to earlier cultural production.

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Introduction, Ann-Marie Einhaus and Katherine Isobel Baxter
Part I: Literature
1. The Uncertain War a Century on: The First World War in British and Irish Fiction, Marie Stern-Peltz
2. Poetry of the First World War in Britain, Clara Dawson
3. First World War Short Fiction, Ann-Marie Einhaus
4. Theatre: 1914 and After, Andrew Maunder
5. Words from Home: Wartime Correspondences, Alice Kelly
6. Transnational Lives: Colonial Life Writing and the First World War, Anna Maguire
Section II: Visual Arts
7. The ‘Abysmal inexcusable middle class’, Painting, Commemoration, and the First World War, Matthew Potter
8. ‘Varied to Infinity’: The First World War and Sculpture, Laura Brandon
9. Memorials: Embodiment and Unconventional Mourning, Laura Wittman
10. Posters, Advertising and the First World War in Britain, James Thompson
Section III: Music
11. ‘We think you ought to go’: Music Hall and Recruitment in the First World War, Robert Dean
12. British Soldiers’ Songs, George Simmers
13. The First World War in Popular Music since 1958, Peter Grant
14. Requiems and Memorial Music, Kate Kennedy
Section IV: Periodicals and Journalism
15. Popular Periodicals: Wartime Newspapers, Magazines and Journals, Kate Macdonald
16. Evolving Wartime Print Cultures of the Anglo-American Modern Literary Renaissance, Christopher J. La Casse
17. Pamphlets and Political Writing, Matthew Shaw
18. ‘The whole of war is an atrocity’: Morgan Philips Price and First World War Reporting in the Ottoman/Russian Borderlands, Jo Laycock
Section V: Film and Broadcasting
19. Official War Films in Britain: The Battle of the Somme 1916, Its Impact Then and Its Meaning Today, Toby Haggith
20. Too Colossal to be Dramatic: The Cinema of the Great War, Michael Paris
21. Representations of the First World War in Contemporary British Television Drama, Emma Hanna
22. The Sound of War: Audio, Radio and the First World War, Richard J. Hand
Section VI: Publishing and Material Culture
23. The British Publishing Industry and the First World War, Jane Potter
24. Photography and the First World War, J. J. Long
25. The Imperial War Museum and the material culture of the First World War, 1917–2014, Alys Cundy
26. The Evolution of First World War Computer Games, Chris Kempshall.

About the Author

Ann-Marie Einhaus is Senior Lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Literature in the Department of Humanities at Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Her main research specialism is short fiction of and about the First World War from 1914 to the present, and she has also published on links between teaching, literature and cultural memory of the war, on middlebrow fiction, and on Wyndham Lewis.

Katherine Isobel Baxter is Reader in English Literature in the Department of Humanities at Northumbria University. She has published widely on Joseph Conrad as well as on colonial and postcolonial literature. Other research interests include literary multilingualism, and law and literature studies.


This omnibus volume edited by Einhaus and Baxter is richly illustrated and packed with a remarkable array of studies devoted to the cultural ecosystem in Britain during the war. It reaches out geographically to include reportage on the Ottoman front, Anglophone writing in Ireland or America and the colonies, as well as cultural legacies, such as sculptural memorials, in some other European countries. Every conceivable genre from poetry to propaganda poster is represented. At the same time, individual chapters unsettle conventional distinctions among forms and offer economic and statistical as well as textual analyses. Contributors explore diverse audiences with a social reach from high to low, or mainstream to avant-garde and general to local. Useful historical analyses of political conditions that constrained or promoted production inform our understanding of both canonized and popular texts. A welcome representation of media, and vivid descriptions of performances, including conflicts within their audiences, bring the moment to life. One comes away astonished by the vast range of culture enjoyed on the home front, in music halls, cinema, in large audiences as well as in the comfort of one’s armchair.   While full attention is given to material from 1914-1918, a distinctive accomplishment of this collection is the sustained pursuit of the afterlife of the war in novels, films, memorials, children’s literature, television and even computer games. The conflicts of the past, we learn, continue to challenge and divide audiences even today.

- Margaret Higonnet, University of Connecticut

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