Before the semester is over…

What was your favorite piece we read this semester? Why?

Or, what is something you didn’t expect to learn in this class, but did?

Or! What was the most shocking thing we talked about, read, or found this semester?

Dorothy Lawrence Comic

I found this comic while looking at an article about Dorothy Lawrence and her life. What do you make of this comic? How does this representation of Lawrence in this comic mirror or differ from the representation of her we have gotten so far in the text?

Some Post-WWI Music About WWI

I found this interesting article that details some music written about WWI. You all can read yourselves, so I just hyperlinked the article (it’s like a one minute read and worth checking out), but I’ve compiled all the music into a Spotify playlist (plus I’ve added some of the more interesting music videos). Check it out!

ALSO: Because my ego is fragile and I like to think I have a good taste in music–this isn’t generally the music I like to listen to, but I think it’s important to hear these songs and see how other people interpret the Great War.

  • Pipe of Peace by Paul McCartney

  • On Battleship Hill by PJ Harvey

  •  Going Home by Randy Newman

(This isn’t a video…duh…but here’s a cool quote from Newman on the song).

“This is a World War I song. World War I fascinates me because it was such a shock to the world. Nothing before or since has come close. It was a horrible, horrible event. It was modern weaponry and cavalry and then tanks. They fought for four years over a hundred yards, some ridiculously small amount of ground.  It’s the stupidest event in history. This is one of those songs that I just can’t sing – it’s right in one of the cracks in my range. So we did it to approximate what a recording of that era would sound like. I know Mitchell’s going to get blamed in some review for using all these effects, but we did it because I simply can’t sing the thing.”

The long awaited Spotify playlist with all of the songs:


Has anyone seen the movie 9?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I don’t think it’s directly related to WWI but I can’t help but see some similarities.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the first half of the plot summary on IMDb:

In a world destroyed in a war between man and machine, a hand-stitched doll with the number 9 written on its back comes to life. The world he has awakened in is frightening, but he quickly learns that he is not alone and that there are others like him, also with a single digit written on their back.

Mostly, I’ve been thinking about this movie because it deals with the mechanization of war. WWI is so interesting to me because we have such of diversity of weapons at the disposal of either side of the war. There are machine guns and tanks, but at the same time, there are cannons and close-contact weaponry.

This might not have much to do with our class really at all, but if you watch the movie (it’s on Netflix) let me know if you see any other connections! I haven’t seen it in a while but just can’t seem to get it out of my head when we discuss WWI.

A trailer in case you’re interested:


What are you all’s overall thoughts on Borden now that we finished The Forbidden Zone?

I was talking with Morgan a little about this and I’m curious to see what everyone else thinks.

Personally, I think I liked it. The book  evoked such a visceral reaction from me that often times I couldn’t tell whether I was angry or happy  just have gotten the chance to read  I text that made me feel so strongly.

Did anyone have any similar reactions?

Coffee is My Routine

I am more than just a book person (RE: WWI Meet Riverby, Riverby Meet Basically My Whole Class). I am also a coffee person. Gertrude Stein said it best:

“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”

And speaking of coffee and Stein, here I am, sitting lazily in my apartment, typing this post when I should be proposing sociological research ideas, drinking coffee from my Stein cup. I’ll insert the lovely photo shoot my mug and I had just moments before, below.

Why do I call this mug my Stein mug, you may ask? Well my friend, do I have an answer for you. Gertrude Stein was an avid art collector. According to this article from The Culture Trip,

“Stein was one of the first Americans in Paris to respond with enthusiasm to the 20th century modernist revolution in European art.”

She was also a close friend of Picasso. This mug reminds me of Picasso. There you have it.

But why all the talk about Gertrude Stein on a Literature of The Great War blog? I’m glad you asked.

We’ve talked a lot in class about how war books and war poems are often excluded from the modernist collection of texts, but in a lot of the books and other pieces we’ve read so far this semester I’ve seen major modernist influences. Especially that of Gertrude Stein.

In her piece Patriarchal Poetry (here is a PDF if you’re interested in reading it Stein-Patriarchal-Poetry) Stein uses major repetition. We tried reading the piece aloud in my Modernist Poetry class with Dr. Scanlon in the spring of 2018 and let’s just leave at…it was difficult.

In a lot of the works we’ve read this semester we’ve seen similar uses of cyclical language and repetition. Pieces will mention one specific phrase and repeat them at the end of the paragraph or will repeat over and over again (very VERY Stein-ian) the sounds they heard be them cannons, guns, or screams. We see it pretty evidently in Not So Quiet with the “do your bit” lines (just check out pages 570-571 of Gertrude Stein’s Patriarchal Poetry) as well as some of the other pieces.

It was this placement of the texts we’ve been reading alongside Stein’s own work that I began to grapple with the idea of coping and routine that we’ve been discussing in relation to Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone.

The people in Borden’s text have no normal, or rather, they have a new sense of normal brought on my the war. But there is no way such a transition would have gone over well initially. Much like when any big event or change occurs in our lives, we seek out routine. We seek out structure. I wonder if in Stein, but more related, in the texts we’ve been reading throughout the semester, this strategy of repetition was used as a supplemental form of coping. If it was purposeful in nature, or completely accidental? Is there a reason such information is not presented in more forthcoming ways if it was purposeful?

I personally don’t believe in accidents. My absolute favorite person ever said it herself,

“Omissions are not accidents.” -Marianne Moore

I believe this strategy was employed thoughtfully and purposefully and in such a way as to make us be as confused by the War as we can sometimes be by the texts it helped produce.

Also PSA:

Don’t forget that tonight at 4 PM in the digital auditorium of the ITCC the English Department and PRISM are co-sponsoring a panel on queer writers featuring Professors Finkelstein, LaBreche, Foss, Scanlon, Haffey, Richards and Barrenechea.

(Dr. Scanlon said she was going to talk about Stein so…uh…you know…go to this)

Video on British Soldier’s Kits

So a couple weeks ago some videos of women’s fashion and VAD Nurse outfits were posted and they were extremely interesting. Well, I guess my computer knows I am in a class about WWI so my youtube is recommending to me WWI related videos. So, here is a video about British Soldiers and their kits during the war that I thought I would share with you all.

The ‘Stache

Ever since someone posted about Hitler being involved in The Great War on the blog, I’ve been intrigued. I never knew (as much sense as it makes that he was) that he was involved much less that his experiences shaped some of the ways he could approach World War II.

In that earlier post on the blog, it was said that Hitler had been the victim of gas attacks and vowed not to use gas warfare in WW2 because of its devastating effects (ironic). Well, I was doing some further research on it and apparently the infamous mustache Hitler dons also resulted from gas warfare.

Apparently Hitler had sported the typical German style before the war of a long and thin facial hair above his upper lip and upon joining the war, was constructed to clip it into the infamous toothbrush shape in order to able to better fit into a gas mask.

Adolf Hitler, Hitler was ordered to trim his moustache

Historians came to the conclusion about this upon the publication of Alexander Moritz Frey’s biography who, according to an article done by The Telegraph, “came to know [Hitler] when both were lowly privates in a Bavarian infantry division.”


Later in the same article Frey is quoted further describing Hitler’s appearance saying,

“At that time he looked tall because he was so thin. A full moustache, which had to be trimmed later because of the new gas masks, covered the ugly slit of his mouth.”

It’s odd how far-reaching some of the effects of this war are. I went from not even knowing Hitler had been a part of the war to now seeing how such identifying stylistic choices were shaped by it.

Birds and Battle

I’m sitting in my living room typing this post from my phone and trying to cope with this movie I just finished watching.

For my film review (don’t worry this isn’t it) I watched the film Beneath Hill 60 (so so good. Do yourselves a favor and watch it. Side note: it’s free on YouTube but you didn’t hear that from me) which is about an Australian group of miners during the war. In some of the very beginning scenes, I was puzzled hence this post.

Several of the mining tunnels they had constructed had small cages hanging on the walls with pigeons and canaries or “budgies” in them. I asked my family of movie buffs and history freaks why this was and the answer, though seemingly simple, shocked me.

Today we have machines that detect gases that shouldn’t be in our homes. There are carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors and probably dozens more for dozens other reasons, but during WW1, these machines didn’t exist. Underground, the likelihood of pockets of these gases was extremely great. Miners could be digging tunnels and mine into one or (as we discussed before) mine into pockets of gas that had seeped into the ground after being used. Because a small bird’s body is more delicate than a humans, the miners used these birds to detect if they were nearing pockets of gas. If the bird got sick or died, the miners knew they were in danger.

Similarly, running out of oxygen in the tunnels was a great possibility so often times the miners would light candles to test how much oxygen was in the tunnel. Tall flames meant lots of oxygen and dim lights meant alarmingly small amount.

I haven’t had any chance to look up any further information online since, as I said before, still trying to come to terms with the end of what I just witnessed, but I thought the resourcefulness of these people was incredible and mandated a share.

Cartoons After The Great War

I’m not sure exactly which rabbit hole I fell into to find these, but I found some really interesting late 1920s to early 1930s cartoons depicting life during The Great War.

This first one is an Oswald the Rabbit cartoon directed by Walt Disney entitled “Great Guns.” It features a lot of the new technology being developed including tanks and machine guns although it also shows some of the more “primitive” weapons people were forced to use in the war.

I think this cartoon is super interesting because(as we touched on a little bit in class) World War I marked really the beginning of a move from personal combat (and to hand combat and people actively killing each other face to face like Paul did to Duval) to removed combat (much like the contemporary style we use today where often times people never really come face to face/ warfare becoming more mechanized).

This second cartoon, also an Oswald the Rabbit piece, is called “Not So Quiet” (already interesting since All Quiet on the Western Front was published the year before this was released). “Not So Quiet” more prominently features aspects of trench warfare (even going into aspects as detailed as the amount of water and liquids that would accumulate inside the trenches). Another neat addition to this cartoon is the depiction of armistice at the end. We spoken lightly in class about how so many people knew the war would come to an end and so countless lives were lost wastefully. This cartoon shows that with Oswald being chased by a bomb until the armistice and then just having the chase end.

The final cartoon is an early example of Looney Tunes and is called “Bosko the Doughboy.” It clearly shows what life in the trenches was like down to the louse on the sergeant. This one also shows the water in the trenches and the boards placed on the ground to make walking in them easier.

I think all of the cartoons are super neat, not only because of the way they depict World War One, but because of how it seems like the world was coping with what had happened after the fact.