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Unknown Fronts 2015 : Unknown Fronts The “Eastern Turn” in First World War history


When Nov 5, 2015 - Nov 6, 2015
Where Groningen, The Netherlands
Submission Deadline May 10, 2015
Categories    history   first world war   eastern europe   south-eastern europe

Call For Papers


On November 5/6, 2015, the University of Groningen will host a conference about the South Eastern and Eastern European theatre of the First World War. Since the fall of Communism and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, many unknown sources in the archives of different Eastern European countries have become available for international scholars. When in 2013 Christopher Clark published his book The Sleepwalkers, he presented apparently unknown details from the South-Eastern and Eastern-European theatres of the prelude to the First world war to a large, partly un-academic reading public. It goes without saying that these new findings provoked historical debates in academic circles both in the East and the West of Europe. The Clark-controversy turned out to be not a coincidence, as it seems we can speak of an “Eastern Turn” in First World War historiography. The iconic image of the Western Front’s trenches, made famous in cinematography and war poetry, can be revised and redefined. In the process of European integration, additional attention should be paid to the Eastern battlefields and home fronts of the Great War, both in historiography as well as in the culture and politics of memory.

The main aim of the conference is to give a number of scholars from both Western and Eastern Europe the opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas, and research findings about source material of the different Eastern fronts in the First World War. Questions that will be dealt with are: Where are new sources to be found? What is the methodology used in researching such sources? What has been researched, and what not? How to connect the different historiographies of Europe?

The program of the two-day conference has three thematic clusters. Because the over-arching focus of the conference is source material, the clusters are about methods and methodology in the research of different kinds of sources. The first cluster is about 1) diplomacy. The second cluster is about 2) life stories, diaries, biographies and other individual sources. The third cluster is about 3) audiovisual sources and other media-related sources, such as photography, film, newspapers and journals.

Suggestions for topics

Diplomatic relations in Eastern, Central and Southeastern Europe before and during the First World War
Lobbying of Eastern, Central and Southeastern European nations (Czechoslovaks, Poles, Croats, Bulgarians, etc.) in the West, before and during the First World War
Historiographic controversies in Central and Eastern Europe about the First World War, during and after the time of communism
Research of diaries, life stories, letters, poems and biographies (methodology, coordination)
Film, audio, theater, journalism, poetry, literature, music
International collaboration in researching the First World War in Central and Eastern Europe
We welcome other topics/approaches related to the above mentioned.

Guidelines for submission

We welcome individual proposals for a 15-minute presentations. We strongly support lively and stimulating presentations and recommend all applicants to make use of film, media and images. Please include the following information with your proposal:

Title of the paper
Abstract (200-300 words)
Name and institutional affiliation
Short CV
Contact details

The deadline for submission is: May 10th, 2015.

The proposals should be sent to: (link sends e-mail)

For more information:
Organization (information and contact)

Dr. E. Agoston-Nikolova (Formerly department of Slavic Studies – University of Groningen)
N.A. Kraft van Ermel, MA (Netherlands-Russia Centre – University of Groningen)
Drs. G.C. van Hengel (Department of Contemporary History – University of Groningen)
Prof. Dr. J.S.A.M. van Koningsbrugge (Department of Modern History – University of Groningen).

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