IU Provost Lauren Robel discusses activities surrounding IU's commemoration of World War I

Oct. 2, 2014

Dear faculty and staff colleagues,

World War I began 100 years ago. But did it ever end? A century after the Great War began, its echoes persist in many of the most profound issues the globe faces, including genocide, self-determination and the very shape of contested national borders.

This year, our academic community will train its varied disciplinary and cultural lenses and perspectives on the question of the war’s impact and continuing legacy. Engaging the entire campus, the effort will include classes, seminars, speakers, museums and, of course, our wonderful Jacobs School of Music.  

World War I film

A scene from "The Big Parade," a 1925 silent film that will be shown at the IU Cinema in November. | PHOTO COURTESY WARNER BROS.

Andrea Ciccarelli, dean of the Hutton Honors College, is spearheading the effort to turn from remembrance to inquiry. Dean Ciccarelli has done a spectacular job of arranging for leading scholars, public intellectuals, authors and filmmakers to visit campus throughout the year and share their perspectives on the war; he also oversaw the creation of a special website devoted to IU’s commemoration.

Faculty members from four departments are teaching courses focused on World War I this year, on topics that include the cultural legacies of WWI for 1920s and 1930s Europe and the war’s impact on the nature and regulation of war and international law. The IU Cinema is mounting a film series about the war, and the IU Art Museum, IU Archives and Mathers Museum all have exhibitions related to various aspects of the war and its cultural impact.

Exemplifying this broadly integrative approach will be a public roundtable Nov. 4 involving ambassadors and diplomats from many of the nations involved in World War I and moderated by IU President Michael A. McRobbie. That evening, the Jacobs School of Music will present a performance of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” with special guest conductor Michael Palmer. The Requiem hauntingly envelops the work of Wilfred Owen, whose poetry has come to symbolize the loss of a generation during the Great War.

This campus-wide approach to a single event with enduring aftershocks is capable of generating deep learning and engagement -- and powerful ways of comprehending a war whose impact is with us still.

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