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The French contribution to the HRC exhibition, The World at War, 1914–1918

Project coordinator: Douglas BIOW

Total costs of the project: $161.875
Embassy of France support: $14.550

Summary of the Project

The exhibition, The World at War, 1914–1918, marks the centenary of the start of World War I. Once thought to be "the war to end war," such naïve optimism was quickly shattered by the experience of civilian and soldier thrust into the shared horror of industrial warfare. The war lasted four long years and killed ten million people. To be sure, the geo-political causes, the war's global expansion, and the outcomes of the war are well documented. The collective personal and national trauma inflicted on all who experienced the war, however, remains a potent touchstone that speaks to a contemporary world still embroiled in conflict. Drawing on the Harry Ransom Center's (HRC’s) extensive cultural collections, this exhibition illuminates the lived experience of the war from the point of view of its participants and observers, preserved for a twenty-first-century generation through letters, drafts, and diaries; memoirs and novels; photographs and works produced by battlefield artists; and propaganda posters and films. Visitors will come away from the exhibition with a greater understanding of the First World War's reach into our own century.

The HRC, in consultation with the Center for European Studies (CES, in which the France-UT Institute is housed), has arranged for a number of events in connection with the exhibition, some of which we are here proposing can be enhanced markedly with a contribution of funds from the French Embassy to illuminate the particularly French experience of WWI and the importance of France in the context of WWI and its aftermath.  We will also be involving : The French Consulate of Houston ; faculty from the Department of History and the Department of French and Italian at the University of Texas at Austin ; faculty from the LBJ School of Public Affairs ; public high school teachers ; and the general interested community, who come so often to visit the HRC.

The proposed use of the funds for a lecture and workshops linked to the exhibition on WWI will enhance academic research on France ; student (graduate and undergraduate) understanding of France ; high school teacher understanding of France through workshop training ; and a broader community understanding of France through outreach efforts in workshops.

Simultaneously, professors will be teaching scheduled classes to accompany the exhibit, some dealing with France directly. We are also working with the French Consulate in Houston to add French films to the four planned screenings.