Students Staff

10 December 2014

First World War talks investigate experience, memory and its aftermath

How British society remembers the First World War, how families coped in its aftermath and how Germany commemorated the conflict will all be investigated in the first of a series of talks organised by the University of Essex.

The free event on Wednesday 7 January at the Tony Rich Centre at the University’s Colchester Campus will feature four speakers offering very different perspectives on the First World War.

Professor Michael Roper and Dr Rachel Duffett from the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex are organising the talks as part of their work within a new network of five national World War One Engagement Centres supporting community research exploring its legacy.

Dr Duffett, an expert on food and warfare, said: “We are bringing together people directly involved in memorial projects in the region and academics working in this field. We want to encourage a discussion about how we continue to commemorate the First World War while also investigating the impact of the conflict in its immediate aftermath and even now 100 years later. We will be organising more events in the near future looking at these issues.”

Professor Roper, who works on the family and emotional legacies of the First World War, said: "I’m very excited about our first event, which will consider the aftermath and memory of the conflict. By bringing together academic and other First World War researchers in this way, we hope to cast new light on the centenary commemorations, and generate future ideas for collaborative work."

The event on Wednesday 7 January will include:

  • Historian Paul Rusiecki, an Essex alumnus, on the war memorial movement in Essex and its work to commemorate the county’s sacrifice in the interwar years
  • Tony Morrison on Essex County Council’s ‘Now the last poppy has fallen’ project and the direction contemporary remembrance has taken
  • Professor Michael Roper on his research into family legacies of the conflict and particularly how the war lived on for the children of veterans
  • Professor Rainer Schulze on Germany’s responses to commemorating the war and how they might differ from Britain’s

The talks will be followed by a roundtable discussion and visitors will also have the chance to look at an accompanying display of First World War artefacts and ephemera from a local collector.

Based at Essex, Professor Roper and Dr Duffett are part of the ‘Everyday Lives in War’ centre which is coordinated by the University of Hertfordshire and also includes experts from the University of Northampton.

The centres are supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and provide UK-wide support for community groups being funded through a range of HLF programmes, particularly its new £6 million ‘First World War: Then and Now’ community grants scheme.

To book a place or find out more email: or contact Dr Duffett via the Department of Sociology.

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