IU's World War I commemoration includes visits from ambassadors, authors, scholars and filmmakers

  • Sept. 25, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A campus exploration of World War I at Indiana University Bloomington began with the kickoff of a yearlong film series at IU Cinema this month and will continue through the 2015 spring semester.

"World War I: 100 Years" will feature lectures, art exhibits, classes, discussions and visits from renowned authors, academics and filmmakers, including Academy Award-nominated directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“The City of Lost Children,” “Amelie”) and Peter Weir (“Dead Poets Society,” “The Truman Show”).

Jeunet’s visit, scheduled for Feb. 11 to 13, will include a screening of his World War I-related film, “A Very Long Engagement,” on Feb. 12. Weir’s visit is scheduled for March 2 to 5; IU Cinema will screen a retrospective of many of his films, and he will speak about his World War I-inspired movie, “Gallipoli,” on March 4.

IU has launched a special website dedicated to sharing news and events on the World War I activities. In addition, a series of related videos, stories and blogs will be released throughout the year.

“The events surrounding this World War I exploration exemplify our campus goal to integrate multiple perspectives over the course of the year,” IU Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said.

Robel shared some examples of this integration in action, including the Jacobs School of Music’s presentation of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” Nov. 4 at the Musical Arts Center; the ongoing IU Art Museum exhibit “Dada and Constructivism: World War I and Radical Modernism”; and lectures by visiting scholars such as Susan Grayzel, who will speak March 26 on the theme “Did Women Have a Great War? Reflections on Gender, Culture and History." The IU Archives has also posted the first blog in a five-part series highlighting IU’s involvement in the first World War.

“The breadth of activities planned for this academic year create the framework for a campus-wide discussion surrounding the ongoing issues raised by the war: ethnic identity, battles over land, and national and personal identity," Robel said. "The ability to view these issues through the lenses of history, politics, film, music and art demonstrates the unique strength of a campus like ours.”

In November, IU President Michael A. McRobbie will host “An Unsolved Business: The Legacy of the Great War: A WWI Global Roundtable,” which includes ambassadors and diplomats from many of the countries involved in the Great War.

The roundtable is scheduled for 3 p.m. Nov. 4 in Presidents Hall within Franklin Hall. In addition to McRobbie, participants are:

  • Kim Beazley, Australian ambassador to the U.S.
  • Hans Peter Manz, Austrian ambassador to the U.S.
  • Elena Poptodorova, Bulgarian ambassador to the U.S.
  • Philipp Ackermann, deputy German ambassador to the U.S.
  • Giorgio Aliberti, head of political affairs, Italian Embassy in the U.S.
  • Marc Calcoen, consul general of Belgium in New York
  • Stephen Bridges, consul general of the United Kingdom in Chicago
  • Lee Hamilton, professor of practice, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IU
  • Richard Lugar, professor of practice, School of Global and International Studies, IU

Britten’s “War Requiem,” with special guest conductor Michael Palmer, will follow the roundtable Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center.

Hutton Honors College dean Andrea Ciccarelli, who is coordinating IU’s World War I commemoration, said the war remains closely related to today’s world affairs. He cites a recent NPR interview in which a pro-Russia eastern Ukrainian citizen called the people in Western Ukraine “Austro-Hungarian” -- meaning that they belong to a different world that goes back to before World War I, and that therefore they cannot understand the pro-Russian movement.

“So why are we commemorating the centennial of World War I? What is the relevance of the Great War for today’s world affairs?” Ciccarelli asks. “Perhaps, in this surprising answer from a disaffected pro-Russian Ukrainian, lies the answer. The First World War shattered, geographically -- not just politically or culturally -- a world that existed and resisted throughout the shifts of the 20th century. It is still, dramatically and tragically, in front of us.”

Other highlights in November include a roundtable of IU student veterans (3 p.m. Nov. 11, Great Room, Hutton Honors College) and a reading by award-winning writer Geoff Dyer, author of “The Missing of the Somme,” which untangles and reconstructs the myth and memory that illuminates understanding of the Great War (5 p.m. Nov. 17, Presidents Hall).

Four IU Bloomington classes this fall are focused on the influence of World War I:

  • “World War I From the Margins,” with associate professor of history Michelle Moyd
  • “After the Cataclysm: Legacies of World War I in Europe,” with associate professor of history Julia Roos
  • “Logic and Legacies of the Great War,” with Tim Waters, IU professor of law and associate director, Center for Constitutional Democracy
  • “1914-2014: World War I Issues and Legacies for the Global World,” with Andrea Ciccarelli, IU professor and chair of the Department of French and Italian.

Among other events, several World War I lectures will be presented in the spring semester, starting Feb. 3 with “The First World War in Transnational Perspective” by Jay Winter, the Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University. On Feb. 10, McRobbie will present “Australian Intervention in the Great War: The Definition of a Nation.”

In addition to “Dada and Constructivism," ongoing related art exhibits include “In Their Own Words: Native Americans in World War I,” on display at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. Opening Oct. 27 and continuing through Dec. 18 at the Lilly Library is "Over Here and Over There: Places of World War I.”

Related Links

Still from "The Big Parade"

A scene from "The Big Parade," a 1925 silent film that will be shown at the IU Cinema in November. | Photo by Warner Bros.

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Media Contacts

Jennifer Piurek

  • Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President
  • Office 812-856-4886
  • jpiurek@iu.edu