Short course: The impact and legacy of the First World War

New HA short course, 23 January–19 March 2024

Published: 14th November 2023

Beyond the mud and blood: The First World War and the social, political and cultural impact and legacy on ordinary people

Led by Paula Kitching, Dr Rebecca Jinks, Professor Gillian O-Brien, Dr Andre Keil, Professor Panikos Panayi

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(Registration is via Cademy which opens in a new window. Please read the course terms and conditions before registering)

What does the course cover?

While the first global conflict of the modern world fuelled military and leadership challenges, it also created an environment of social, political and cultural unrest.

2024 will be 110 years since the start of the First World War. Rather than returning to the battles and key events, this course intends to explore some of the wider issues and events that happened as a result of the conflict but which are often overlooked in the grand narratives. We have gathered historians who specialise in the period and cross-period themes who will address some of the legacies that those events have had in the following decades.

  • How is the course structured and delivered?

    This course will run from 23 January to 19 March 2024 and is delivered entirely online. It includes six live lectures with discussion. Each lecture will be led by one of the academics on the course but will be supported by the other academics taking part.

    Throughout the course you will have access to a specially selected bank of online resources to support your learning and understanding of the period. Recordings of the live sessions will be added to the resource unit around a week after they have taken place.

    Those who sign up for the course can dip in and out as they wish, attend the live lectures, or catch up on the recordings afterwards, however we encourage live participation in these lectures and workshops to make the most of the experience. There are no requirements for participants to produce any output or assessment for the course – just to take part and enjoy the opportunity to learn about a fascinating period from leading academics in the field.

    The live session dates are detailed below. All sessions will take place between 19:30-21:00 (45mins lecture/45mins chat, discussion and Q&A). You need to register for the course to receive the meeting link details, and access to the accompanying resource unit.

    Session 1 – Introductory lecture: A time of change, a time of challenge
    Paula Kitching
    Tuesday 23 January, 7.30pm

    In this introductory lecture we will outline the themes explored in the course before examining some of the ways that the war created change and social challenges for women living in the UK. How were different women’s lives really affected and what were some of the lasting outcomes for women’s rights and access to employment and freedoms?

    Session 2: Not ‘under the cover of war’: the Armenian genocide and its legacies
    Dr Rebecca Jinks
    Tuesday 30 January, 7.30pm

    In 1915 following months of persecution the Turkish authorities ordered the mass relocation of the Armenian minority living in Turkey, a community that had lived there for generations. The result was the intentional murder of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. This talk will explore the events of the genocide, how the authorities carried it out and will further explore the treatment of minorities. There will be a close discussion of how the military war escalated the violence against the Armenians.

    Session 3: 'While the mad guns curse overhead': Ireland and the First World War
    Professor Gillian O'Brien
    Tuesday 6 February, 7.30pm

    This talk will explore the involvement of thousands of men from Ireland in the First World War. It will consider the myriad of reasons why these men joined up - some were fervent Irish nationalists; others staunch Irish unionists, and it will look at the complex (and often controversial) commemorations of the war in the century after it ended.

    Session 4: The Politics of War: Emergency Powers and the Home Fronts
    Dr Andre Keil
    Wednesday 21 February, 7.30pm

    This lecture will focus on how belligerent states used wartime emergency powers to regulate almost all aspects of social life. Pieces of legislation such as the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) in Britain or the so-called ‘State of Siege’ in Germany effectively suspended the existing constitutions for the duration of the war and established what can be described as ‘commissary dictatorships’. These new emergency powers facilitated an almost unprecedented expansion of government powers, yet they also changed the relationship between citizens and the state.

    Session 5: Dissent, Protest, and Revolutions
    Dr Andre Keil
    Wednesday 6 March. 7.30pm

    Protest and dissent were common features on all home fronts of the First World War. Pacifists and radical socialists, for instance, opposed the war on moral and political grounds, but by far, the biggest instances of protest were a result of wartime hardships, such as inflation and hunger. Managing dissent became a key problem for wartime governments, which often relied on a delicate mixture of positive mobilisation and harsh repression. Ultimately, in some countries, protest movements turned into revolutionary ones that swept away old empires in Russia, Germany, and the Habsburg monarchy. This lecture will look at some of the dynamics of these protest movements and discuss how they left a lasting mark on twentieth-century history.

    Session 6: The Enemy in Our Midst: Germans in Britain during the First World War
    Professor Panikos Panayi
    Tuesday 19 March , 7.30pm

    When the war started in 1914 there was a German community happily living in the UK. Overnight they became outsiders and enemies, their businesses attacked, and their status changed. In this talk the treatment of Germans living in the UK during the First World war will be explored, how they responded, and what the short and long-term outcomes were for that community.

  • What does it cost?

    This course is free to all current HA members, subject to registration. If you have a corporate membership, the additional staff users on your account can also register for free.

    The course is charged at £35 (including VAT) for non-members. Registration is available online only through Cademy, and payment must be made at the point of booking by credit or debit card.

    Did you know? It costs as little as £8 more to become an HA member and gain access to all HA short courses for free, plus a range of other benefits all year round. Find out more about our membership options.

    To access the module content, you will either need to have an active HA membership or a free basic account. Become a member or register for a free basic account.

  • Who is it for?

    The course is open to everyone but is particularly designed for lifelong learners. It is available to anybody with an interest in the topic who wants to learn more while developing their historical skills, without the pressure of any form of assessment. You do not need any prior knowledge of the topic to take part.

  • Who is leading the course?

    Paula Kitching has worked for the Historical Association for over ten years in a variety of roles. In addition to that she is a freelance historian and educator who lecturers regularly in adult education and is the author of several articles and the book Britain’s Jews and the First World War.

    Dr Rebecca Jinks is a historian of comparative genocide and humanitarianism at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of Representing Genocide: The Holocaust as Paradigm?, which examines the ways in which representations of the Holocaust have influenced how other genocides are understood and represented, focusing on the ‘canonical’ cases of genocide – Armenia, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda. Her current research project, ‘Genocidal Captivity’, is funded by the AHRC and explores the experiences of Armenian and Yezidi women genocide survivors in 1915 and 2014.

    Professor Gillian O’Brien SFHEA FRHistS is Professor of Public History at Liverpool John Moores University. She is the author of The Darkness Echoing. Exploring Ireland’s Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion (Penguin, 2020) and Blood Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago (Chicago, 2015) and has also published work on museum and heritage sites in Ireland, convents in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ireland, Anglo-Irish relations, terrorism, the history of education in Ireland, newspaper history and urban history. She is a member of the Board of the Irish Museums Association, the project lead for 'Recording the Cultural Heritage of Convents' funded by the Irish Heritage Council and is a co-investigator on an AHRC project 'Sharing Lands: Reconciliation, Recognition and Reciprocity'.

    Dr Andre Keil is an historian of modern Europe with a particular interest in German, French and British history between 1850 and 1950. Between 2014 and 2016, he was a Lecturer in Modern History at Durham University before joining the University of Sunderland in September 2016. Since February 2019, he has been a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at LJMU. He has published on a wide range of topics relating to British and German history, including the history of trade unionism in Britain, the origins of civil liberties activism, media and history, and memory cultures of the First World War.

    Professor Panikos Panayi a Professor of European History. He has worked at De Montfort University since 1990 and has held a personal Chair since 1999. He has published widely and his research fits into the following areas: the history of immigration and interethnic relations; the history of food; the First World War; German history; the history of London; and the history of the Cypriot people.

  • How do I take part?

    To register for the short course, book via Cademy. We will verify your details and contact you with further information once your registration has been confirmed. If you have questions about the course, please contact us.

What participants in our previous short courses have said:

“I learnt so much and loved it, the best piece of further learning I have done in my life.”

“The course was really well-presented and covered a range of issues beyond what I had expected. It left me with better understanding and a desire to investigate further.”

Membership is good value, but this makes it exceptional"

"A highly interesting course. Very enjoyable too."

"I liked the combination of broad historical context and specific detail.”