Historians Bourke, Grayzel to speak for World War I commemoration

IU Bloomington’s year-long commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of World War I enters the home stretch this week with back-to-back lectures by historians Joanna Bourke and Susan Grayzel.

The lectures, part of the series World War I: 100 Years, start at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in Presidents Hall in Franklin Hall. Bourke’s talk is titled “Designed to Kill: Combat during the First World War.” Grayzel will speak on “Did Women Have a Great War? Reflections on Gender, Culture, and History.”

Joanna Burke

Joanna Burke

“Joanna Bourke and Susan Grayzel are among the top historians of World War I, so their presence is almost a given in a centennial on the war,” said Andrea Ciccarelli, dean of the Hutton Honors College and organizer of the commemoration. “But they also bring to it a different flavor, as they analyze the historical matters related to the war from a gender-studies perspective.”

Bourke, he said, is a historian who follows various themes and how they affect ideological and political perspectives. For example, her book “Fear: A Cultural History” analyzes how the perception of fear, far from being eradicated in response to the violence of World War I, instead penetrated deep within modern societies, influencing everything from medicine to politics.

Known for taking on uncomfortable topics, Bourke is also the author of “The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers” and “Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present.” Her military histories include “An Intimate History of Killing: Face-to-Face Killing in Twentieth Century Warfare,” which examines the mix of pleasure and guilt in wartime killing; and “The Second World War: A People’s History,” which tells the grim stories of civilians who died in World War II.

She is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Susan Grayzel

Susan Grayzel

Grayzel examines how World War I set the stage for the future lives of women in the countries most affected by the war, especially the United Kingdom and France, Ciccarelli said. In some cases, the war planted the seeds for changes that would come decades later.

A professor of history and director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi, Grayzel is the author of “Women’s Identities at War: Gender, Motherhood and Politics in Britain and France during the First World War”; “Women in the First World War”; “At Home and Under Fire: Air Raids and Culture in Britain from the Great War to the Blitz”; and “The First World War: A Brief History of Documents.”

World War I: 100 Years includes lectures, symposia, film showings, art exhibitions, panels, conferences and other events highlighting the centennial of the 1914 beginning of World War I. Ciccarelli, dean of the Hutton Honors College and professor of Italian, directs the program at the request of IU President Michael A. McRobbie and IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel.

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