War beyond Words

War beyond Words : Languages of Remembrance from the Great War to the Present

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What we know of war is always mediated knowledge and feeling. We need lenses to filter out some of its blinding, terrifying light. These lenses are not fixed; they change over time, and Jay Winter's panoramic history of war and memory offers an unprecedented study of transformations in our imaginings of war, from 1914 to the present. He reveals the ways in which different creative arts have framed our meditations on war, from painting and sculpture to photography, film and poetry, and ultimately to silence, as a language of memory in its own right. He shows how these highly mediated images of war, in turn, circulate through language to constitute our 'cultural memory' of war. This is a major contribution to our understanding of the diverse ways in which men and women have wrestled with the intractable task of conveying what twentieth-century wars meant to them and mean to us.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 314 pages
  • 153 x 227 x 18mm | 500g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises; 80 Plates, color
  • 1108466613
  • 9781108466615
  • 913,429

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. Vectors of Memory: 1. Configuring war; 2. Photographing war; 3. Filming war; 4. Writing war; Part II. Frameworks of Memory: 5. Memory and the sacred: martyrdom in the twentieth century and beyond; 6. The geometry of memory: horizontality and war memorials in the twentieth century and after; 7. War beyond words: shell shock, silence, and memories of war; Conclusion.
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Review quote

'The agony of looking war's carnage in the face compels us to refract its horror through symbolic re-enactments and collective commemorations, as well as to dull the pain through rituals of healing and consolation. Drawing on decades of pioneering research in the First World War and its aftermath, the distinguished historian Jay Winter trenchantly explores a wide variety of such efforts, including painting, photography, war poetry, state monuments, different national languages of 'glory' and 'sacrifice,' and even the uses and abuses of silence. Insofar as the mourning process is still ongoing for conflicts both under way and likely to come, War beyond Words not only instructs us about the past, but also foretells, alas, our future.' M. E. Jay, author of Reason After its Eclipse 'For over four decades, Jay Winter has been the foremost historian of the Great War and its disastrous impact on the participant nations around the globe. This book is the culmination of his pioneering research and constant pondering of some of the most vexing questions of industrialized warfare, extreme violence, mass trauma, mourning, and memory. He has expanded his seminal studies of the culture of warfare and memory into the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the deep traces, as well as silences, that affect all parts of the world to this day. Even as the forms of global violence change, this book provides a unique learning experience for readers of all generations.' V. R. Berghahn, author of Europe in the Era of Two World Wars 'For four decades, Winter (Emeritus Professor of History, Yale) has researched war and communicated his findings to scholars and laypersons. His new book addresses the cultural history of war through the lenses of language and the creative arts that frame memory ... The book's last sentence is as depressing as it is insightful: 'Imagining war is the curse of our violent world; we have no choice but to face that task with as much intelligence, compassion, and courage as we can.' Splendid illustrations. Essential.' B. Osborne, Choice '... this lavishly presented volume (with fifty-eight pages of glossy color photographs) will prove a valuable resource for any scholars interested in the cultural history of war and the collective memory of conflict.' David Clarke, H-Diplo 'In our present troubled times, when not only the belief in human rights that emerged from the Second World War in Western democracies but also democracy itself feel under attack, this is an important book - a necessary reminder that no matter how hard it is to understand the horrors of war, it is a task we must always attempt.' Lucy Noakes, The American Historical Review '... War Beyond Words provides a sweeping study of Western cultural memories of warfare, packed with references that provide a valuable starting point for any student of the subject.' Lizzie Oliver, Journal of Contemporary History
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About Jay Winter

Jay Winter is Charles J. Stille Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, Connecticut. He won an Emmy award as co-producer of the BBC/PBS television series 'The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century' (1996), and is a founder of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, an international museum of the Great War inaugurated in 1992. He is the author of Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (1995), editor of America and the Armenian Genocide in 1915 (Cambridge, 2004), and editor-in-chief of the three-volume Cambridge History of the First World War (Cambridge, 2014).
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