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Speaker(s): Philip Bobbitt, Richard Sennett, Robert Gerwarth, John Horne, Lord Glasman, Donald Sassoon, The Rt Hon. Douglas Alexander MP, Zygmunt Bauman
Chair: Professor Craig Calhoun, Dr John F Jungclaussen

Recorded on 3 October 2014 at Shaw Library, Old Building

The centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War began with a serious debate over the war guilt question. Historians such as Christopher Clark, David Reynolds and Niall Ferguson engaged a wide public audience with their respective arguments. Since then,the focus has been very much on the nature of war itself. In the media, in theatres and concert halls, in stately homes and village halls, the British commemoration of the Great War is strikingly visceral. History, it seems, is less about rationalising past events than it is about accessing the emotional experience of those who lived in it.

Yet, 1914 marked the beginning of a conflict that was much more than a ‘national catastrophe’ for Britain. In the words of the American diplomat and historian George F Kennan this was ‘the great seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century’, the big bang that determined the course of history and continues to define the political reality in Britain, Europe and America to this day. The aim of this conference is to move beyond the parochial and broaden the view of the British debate.

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