by Olwen Myhill
As part of events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, the Centre for Metropolitan History in partnership with IWM (Imperial War Museums) is organising a major conference that will explore the ways in which London and its inhabitants were affected by, and involved with, the 1914-18 conflict.
For the first time London was effectively on the front line, subject to aerial bombing and surveillance, whilst its streets, buildings and spaces were shaped by the needs of mass mobilisation, supply and defence. The war had an impact upon everyday life in the capital in other ways too, including the economy, governance, standards of living, culture, leisure, the physical environment and social life.
The Zeppelin scare is just as if the whole place was in imminent fear of an earthquake. At night the whole of London is in absolute darkness, every window heavily screened, no street lamps, no lamps on vehicles, all trains with windows closed and blinds drawn, constant street accidents and traffic blocks, and a bewildering pandemonium of confusion in the streets.
War Letters of General Monash, Sydney, ed. F.M. Cutlack (1934), p. 124, 18 July 1916; writing to his wife and daughter in Australia
The conference will be an opportunity to examine these and larger themes, such as the idea of ‘resilience’ as a feature of the development of cities in history, and the extent to which warfare has engendered longer term urban societal changes. We are also interested in exploring the ‘legacy’ of the First World War, whether through art, literature, the built environment or the heritage industry.
Proposals for panels (3 x 20 minute papers) or individual papers are invited on any of these or any other topics connected with the impact of the First World War on London, and indeed London’s role, broadly conceived, in the four-year conflict. The programme committee welcomes submissions reflecting a wide range of perspectives and disciplines, including history, geography, literary studies, art history, and museology. We also welcome papers which reflect comparatively on the experiences of London and other cities in the UK and in other countries.
Suzanne Bardgett (Imperial War Museums)
Professor Matthew Davies (Centre for Metropolitan History)
Professor Richard Dennis (UCL)
Dr Stefan Goebel (Kent)
Professor Jerry White (Birkbeck, University of London)
Abstracts of c.250 words and a brief biography should be sent by email to: Olwen.Myhill@sas.ac.uk
The deadline for proposals is 30 June 2014.
The conference will be held on Friday 20 March 2015 at the Institute of Historical Research and on Saturday 21 March 2015 at IWM London.
The programme and registration details will be available in September 2014.