#KU and #WWI Commemoration

One of the ongoing themes of this season’s Downtown Abbey has been how to commemorate and memorialize casualties from World War I. Should there be a stone commemorating the dead in the city square? A park where villagers can sit and quietly reflect? When we have experienced so much loss, how is it that we’ll best remember? After WWI, this commemorative soul searching occurred in almost every community and town around the world — even right here at home at the University of Kansas.

On January 9th, 2015, the Lawrence Journal World‘s Sara Shepherd interviewed William Towns, former union operations manager and KU history scholar, about KU’s Memorial Stadium and Student Union, commemorative WWI buildings on the KU campus. In the article we learn how decisions made about WWI commemoration affected decisions regarding WWII memorials and the construction of our much-recognized Campanile.

Read the article.

KU History website.

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#KU_WWI @GSoldierSvejk Literary Tweetenactment

Since 1923, The Fateful Adventures of The Good Soldier Švejk during the World War, or more commonly known as The Good Soldier Švejk, has been delighting audiences around the world with its dark comedy and biting anti-war themes.

 

Considered the grandfather of satirical anti-war novels like Catch-22, The Good Soldier Švejk is a hilarious yet scathing commentary on the ludicrous absurdity of 20th century Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy. The novel has been translated into over 58 languages and many acknowledge it as one of the greatest masterpieces of satirical writing ever written.

 

For the purposes of the #KU_WWI Twitter Project, we present an abbreviated first chapter of The Good Soldier Švejk in which Švejk (@GSoldierSvejk) learns about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (@ArchdukeFranzi) from his cleaning lady, Mrs. Müller (@CharwomanMuller). What is striking about their discussion is its seeming irrelevance to their everyday lives — they are interested in the event, but only in so much as people are when it comes to royalty and scandal.

 

The literary tweetenactment tries to be as true to the English translation of the novel as possible, with abbreviation and some artistic license for the 140-character tweet limitation.

Read the @GSoldierSvejk Tweetenactment here.

The @GoodSoldierSvejk Tweetenactment is meant to represent the greater body of WWI literature, music, and art that would come out of the early part of the 20th century. It is our opinion that history is best understood by exposure to the humanities, and it is our hope that you will be inspired to seek your own copy of The Good Soldier Švejk as a means of better understanding the First World War.

Click here to learn more about the #KU_WWI Twitter Project.

Did you know that the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas now hosts one of the largest collection of WWI art in the United States? Click here to read an article about the collection.