HY332 - Interwar worlds: the cultural consequences of the First World War
Dr Dina Gusejnova
A political catastrophe of global proportions, the First World War also had a transformative impact on cultural life worldwide throughout the interwar period. Trenchcoats, jazz, shellshock, avantgarde, aerial photography, radio news, spotlights – these wartime notions also represent a profound impact on cultural practices in the postwar era. This course will examine how technological, social, and political changes brought about cultural change in postwar societies, principally focusing on the transnational and global circulation of commodities, ideas, population groups, and cultural fashions between Europe and the world. Technological advancements spurned by military needs, such as radio, telephony, and photography, became available to postwar populations on a new scale. The representation of war atrocities and their impact on the human psyche created a need for new, hybrid, multilingual, and multimedia communication. Wartime disruption and change to education continued to have an impact on schools and universities in the postwar years, intensifying the global circulation of ideas. The increase in contact between previously disconnected communities, mediated as well as direct in places like prisoner of war camps, increased the exposure to different ideas, sights and sound, leading to the emergence of increasingly global cultural fashions such as jazz. Nonetheless, this globalisation of culture also went hand in hand with the growth of new forms of racist caricature and the drawing of new frontiers. The role of international and humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross or YMCA in wartime changed the relationship between states and societies by introducing a transnational dimension to cultural provision, yet it is noteworthy that this new internationalism was neither disinterested nor did it lie ‘beyond’ ideology.