Professor John Horne talks ‘Inventing the “Front”: Cognition and Reality in the Great War’

The unanticipated reality of the Great War in Europe was siege warfare of a radically new kind, in which each side besieged the other, attacking and defending, and owing to coalition warfare, did so on multiple ‘fronts.’ Europe became a continent under mutual siege and the front was the place where the drama of reciprocal defence and attack was played out.

The drama was one of cognition and imagination since it entailed slowly and painfully replacing understandings of war inherited from an earlier era with those that addressed industrial siege warfare. The ‘front,’ therefore, did not just happen. It had to be conceived and imagined. For this reason it became the quintessential experience of the Great War and its lasting cultural legacy for the subsequent century.

John Horne is emeritus Fellow and former Professor of Modern European History in Trinity College Dublin, and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is currently Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. He is a board member of the International Research Centre of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne, and also a member of the French National Commission for the Centenary of the Great War.

He is the author and editor of a number of books and over 80 articles and chapters on modern French and European history with particular reference to the First World War.

Among his books are (with Alan Kramer), German Atrocities 1914: A History of Denial (Yale, 2001); Vers la guerre totale? Le tournant de 1914-1915 (Tallandier, 2011); and (with Robert Gerwarth), War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the First World War (OUP, 2012). He is currently working on a history of the French in the Great War.

01. November 2016, 17.30 – 19.00
Great Hall, Strand Campus
King’s College London
London WC2R 2LS