Centre International de Recherche de l’Historial de la Grande Guerre

The Great War in Every Direction Publication date : September 22, 2021

The International Research Center at the Historial of the Great War is an association founded in 1989 devoted to the study of the Great War. It is supported by the Historial of the Great War and by its museum, which opened in 1992, in Péronne in the Somme. It is directed by Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, head of research at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and the author of many works of reference on the war of 1870 and on the period 1914 – 1918.
The museum and historiographic project of Péronne has been inspired by a desire to deepen and enlarge a study of the war. This involves reinserting ‘14-‘18 within a history of the present time, advancing the idea that the Great War was indeed a gateway to the Twentieth Century. This new historiography, proposed in Péronne, is part of a fundamental movement to bring the First World War, which naturally has become more distant with the passing of time, closer to us. This book is the fruit of the project.

The goals of the project explain the slant of the present texts, which stress the up-to-now unstudied aspects of the Great War: the corporeal experience of the war – the “somatic everyday life” – the fear recounted by the soldiers, the time of the war, its locations, the novelty of the modern battlefield; its noises and its silences; the poetry of war; the sense of the “fatherland” and its defense for the different actors; the experience of travel during the war, made up of fronts and expeditions; the difference in the words used and the commemorations of different communities, and what that reveals about the cultural transformations brought about by the war – for example, through the use of the concept of race; the Great War, its frenzy, its leaders, seen by a German historian working on France; the juridical perspective on this war, which signaled a breakdown of the law that was continually invoked and instrumentalized, and constantly violated; the war seen through the graffiti and sculptures of the soldiers, the images and texts of the press, painting and figurations of all sorts; the disinformation and collapse of ties between populations; the “humanitarian moment” at the end of the Great War.

Topics on a human scale, which reveal the face of the war as presented to those who fought and those who lived through it.