remembering the first world war

Study Day, Saturday 3 November 2018, 2.00 pm–5.30 pm

Price: £50.00 / £45.00 students. Tea and coffee provided.
Venue: Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge CB22 5BP
Bookings now open. 

CAMcard holders can book at the student price. Please bring proof of status to the event.



War and memory

It is 100 years since the First World War ended. Its bitter legacy was felt long into the twentieth century and beyond. Two leading scholars explore some of the beautiful and disturbing writings of the war. How does that literature speak to us now? 

 Ivor Gurney

Ivor Gurney

Ivor Gurney and Wilfred Owen
War Poetry, War Music

Kate Kennedy, Oxford

The First World War, more than any other conflict, is viewed through the literature it inspired. Of the many poets who used their experiences in their verse, the voice of Wilfred Owen has dominated our conception of war poetry. We will look at his now iconic war poetry to ask what purpose the First World War poets served, and how strongly Owen's poetry has shaped our understanding both of what war poetry should be, and of how we might view the First World War itself.

We will also look at Ivor Gurney, war poet and composer. When all the other war poets were saying ‘Goodbye to All That’ after the Armistice, Gurney, abandoned and alone in a mental asylum remained a war poet well into the 1920s. Gurney wrote his trench experiences into his music as well as his poetry. This lecture explores Gurney's poetry and song to understand his unique sense of war and mental illness.


 Käthe Kollwitz, Trauernde Eltern (Grieving Parents)

Käthe Kollwitz, Trauernde Eltern (Grieving Parents)

The Shock and Sadness of War

Trudi Tate, Cambridge

How did civilians bear witness to the trauma of the First World War? Did civilians suffer from shell shock? After the war, both civilians and veterans felt disappointed and disillusioned by the peace. What had the war achieved? This lecture explores First World War writings of Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, and others.

The day ends with a round-table discussion in which everyone can participate.


Kate Kennedy is Associate Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and author of a forthcoming biography of Ivor Gurney.

Trudi Tate is Fellow of Clare Hall, Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of English, Cambridge, and Director of Literature Cambridge. Her books include Modernism, History and the First World War (rev. edn 2013), Women's Fiction and the Great War, and Women, Men and the Great War. Website.

Both lecturers have published widely on the First World War. Their joint publications include The Silent Morning: Culture and Memory After the Armistice (2013) and special issues of the journals First World War Studies (2011) and the Ivor Gurney Journal (2007).

All ages are are welcome to join us for a taste (or a reminder) of the best of university education. Free place for a teacher bringing 5+ students. Contact us for details:



Ivor Gurney Society, manuscripts.
First World War Poetry digital archive.
Wilfred Owen biography and poems at the Poetry Foundation (US).
Great War Fiction, blog by George Simmers.

Banner image: Shokoofeh Poorreza, Unsplash