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Echoes of Sassoon: A Conversation with Matti Friedman by Brian Castner

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Echoes of Sassoon: A Conversation with Matti Friedman

by Brian Castner

Pumpkin Flowers

When Matti Friedman was seventeen years old, he moved from a typical middle-class neighborhood in Toronto to a kibbutz in Israel, to work as a farmer. A few years later, he was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, and fought in Southern Lebanon in 1998 and 1999, in a conflict that still has no official name. After his military service ended, he settled in Jerusalem and became a journalist with the Associated Press. It took him fifteen years to write about his war. His memoir of that time, Pumpkinflowers, was published last year, and was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book.

Read more: Echoes of Sassoon: A Conversation with Matti Friedman by Brian Castner

WWrite Weekend Update for June 18th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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 Contemporary Veterans Respond to WWI Letters with David Chrisinger, Brian Castner Interviews Matti Friedman, and PTSD in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway

See Me for Who I AmThis Week's Post: This week's post, "More Gentile Than Grim: Letters Home from WWI," comes from author, editor, and award-winning teacher, David Chrisinger. Chrisinger is the editor of See Me For Who I Ama collection of essays by veteran students that seeks to undermine three main media-create stereotypes that divide them from the American people they have fought to protect: as superhuman; as broken, disabled, and traumatized; or as dangerous, ticking time bombs.  

Read more: WWrite Weekend Update for June 18th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

More Gentile Than Grim: Letters Home from World War I, by David Chrisinger

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More Gentile Than Grim: Letters Home from World War I
By David Chrisinger

At the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I teach a seminar for student veterans on the history of American veterans coming home from war. In the fall of 2015, the students in my class analyzed hundreds of pages of letters that had been written by soldiers fighting on the Western Front during World War I who had grown up in the town where our university is located. As they read each letter, I asked them to highlight passages that struck a chord with them, that reminded them of their own experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere. What they found surprised them: the letter were more gentile than grim. I mean gentile in the non-religious sense, an inclusive sense, meaning belonging to the same group, which originates from the the Latin gentilis meaning ‘of a family or nation, of the same clan.’ The WWI soldiers were brothers, sisters, comrades.

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The student veterans in Chrisinger’s seminar for student veterans at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, October 2015

“You can bet I’ll never miss any more wars if I know they are in progress.”
They were surprised, though perhaps they shouldn’t have been, that most of the letters are those of young and confident American doughboys, not the conflicted old men many of my students think of when they try to picture a veteran of the First World War. One soldier wrote in March 1918 that he’s “perfectly satisfied, feels great, sleeps like a log, and wouldn’t come back until we win the war for anything.” Another wrote that “this sure is the life. Why the hell didn’t I get into the Mexican war? You can bet I’ll never miss any more wars if I know they are in progress.”

Read more: More Gentile Than Grim: Letters Home from World War I, by David Chrisinger

WWrite Weekend Update for June 11th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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The Great War Theatre Project, Contemporary Veterans Respond to WWI Letters with David Chrisinger, and PTSD Awareness Month


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This Week's Post:  This week's post, "A Journey of Commemoration: The Great War Through the Lens of Art," comes from Susan Werbe, the executive producer of the The Great War Theatre Project: Messengers of Bitter Truth, performed in Boston, New York, and Letchworth (UK). Werbe discusses the process of weaving voice, dance, theatre, writings, and song cycles to examine the collective memory of war on the individual. She also talks about her latest project, Letters You Will Not Get, a libretto, using various genres of women's WWI writing, set to commissioned contemporary music. A wonderful showcase of an extraordinary, multidisciplinary project—not to miss! (photo above - a scene from The Great War Theatre Project)

Read more: WWrite Weekend Update for June 11th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

A Journey of Commemoration: The Great War through the Lens of Art, by Susan Werbe

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A Journey of Commemoration: The Great War through the Lens of Art

WWITheaterProject

Scenes from The Great War Theater Project performances.

In late June 2013, I stood on the banks of the SambreOise Canal in northern France.    The scene before my eyes was peaceful and bucolic.  It could easily have been 1913 instead of 100 years later.  A lone fisherman plied the waters of the canal; an elderly woman, dressed in black walked her dog.  I had come to this peaceful spot to remember the British war poet Wilfred Owen.  André – my guide, a former Belgian military officer steeped in the history of The Great War—showed me the exact spot where Owen had been killed on November 4, 1918, one week before the Armistice was declared.

My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.

(Wilfred Owen)

 

Read more: A Journey of Commemoration: The Great War through the Lens of Art, by Susan Werbe

Beyond Friend or Foe. World War I American Immigrant Poetry: A Digital Humanities Project, by Lorie A. Vanchena

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Germans emigrate 1874

Beyond Friend or Foe. World War I American Immigrant Poetry: A Digital Humanities Project

Lorie A. Vanchena organizes the WWI American Immigrant Poetry project at the University of Kansas. It aims to create a single source for storing poems by American immigrant voices—for or against the war—to shed light on the historical, national, and ethnic contexts in which the poems were written and to demonstrate that this poetry can help us understand  the way WWI continues to shape our world today. In this post, she discusses some of her findings. (photo above -"From the Old to the New World," showing German emigrants boarding a steamer in Hamburg, to New York. (Harper's Weekly, New York) November 7, 1874)

Read more: Beyond Friend or Foe. World War I American Immigrant Poetry: A Digital Humanities Project, by...

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