Literary Journalism and War

OCLW is acting as project partner to a bid for a research project in development by John S. Bak at the Université de Lorraine. For more information, please see the project webpage

Description: Few would dispute that the violence of war is one of the most horrific experiences to which the human community is exposed. Yet, in modern journalism discourse, we have tended to objectify war to a safe, sublimated distance. In effect, we have made of war a euphemism, which, as the poet Joseph Brodsky observed, “is, generally, the inertia of terror” we do not wish to acknowledge. This is why some journalists turn to literary journalism to account for war, and why the genre is so necessary, even critical, because it helps us to perceive better through the aesthetics of experience the monster of war we have created.

This project proposes first to establish the parameters of the term literary journalism (creative nonfiction, realistic novel, memoir, reportage, journalisme d’immersion, etc.) and the notions of war (not only ‘hot’ wars or ‘cold’ wars but also other conflicts, such as cyber wars). Second, it will examine how those wars have been covered differently by literary journalism than by the traditional press. Third, it will analyze various examples of literary journalism from countries around the world to see if literary journalism unifies the humanities in how it covers war, all the while the war that is being covered divides us further from each other. Topics included will be case studies of wars from colonialist Africa to World War I and from Russia’s involvment in Chechnia to America’s military engagements during the Arab Spring. Research in the form of conference presentations, seminars and book and journal publications (a special issue of Literary Journalism Studies will be edited) will examine how literary journalism tries to balance the bloody with the banal in war reporting.

The long-term project will be to disseminate the project’s research findings to various communities. An online, interactive website will provide a database of literary war journalism written throughout the world. Internauts will be able to click on a country in Europe or Africa, select a site where a war was centralized, and access the various literary journalistic pieces written about that particular site by literary journalists of multiple nations. Additional media will be made available as well, including manuscripts, notebooks, letters, photos, and videos linked to the war and the journalistic piece.

News
Events

The latest from Wolfson College

Homes4All at Wolfson College
11 March 2019
Wolfson College makes its annual donation to eight individual charities

Each year the College's Social Committee shortlist eight national and local charities to receive a donation of £400. 

7 March 2019
Alumnus Phil Hewitt publishes book on recovery after trauma

In February 2016, marathon runner and journalist Phil Hewitt were attacked in Cape Town. Deeply traumatised by the attack, he turned to running -...

Art by Dominique Zinkpè
6 March 2019
New works of art in the Haldane Room and Upper Common Room

The College is delighted to announce that new artworks are on display in the Haldane Room and the Upper Common Room by contemporary African...

Our upcoming events

Clubs & Societies
31 - 31
Mar Mar
Romulus Call for Contributions
Sunday 31 March - 11:59pm

Looking to express your creative side? Romulus, Wolfson College's literary magazine, welcomes submissions in the form of poems, short stories, essays, papers, photos, illustrations, or anything else that can be printed. This year's theme is Ritual. Written pieces should generally be no longer than 2,500 words. Academic papers are welcome, but should be accessible to a general audience. 

Lectures and Seminars
15 - 16
Apr Apr
Oxford Symposium in Silicon Solar Cell Technology
Monday 15 April - 9:00am to Tuesday 16 April - 6:00pm
Lectures and Seminars
02 - 02
May May
Wolfson Lecture Series 2018-19: Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Twenty-first cen...
Thursday 2 May - 6:15pm to 7:15pm

After 35 years in diplomacy, Sir Tim Hitchens considers how 21st century will be different from 20th century diplomacy. He will consider the evolution of diplomatic tradecraft, and the different cultures of diplomacy around the world.