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.

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Our upcoming events

Lectures and Seminars
20 - 20
Sep Sep
Beyond the Picture: Calligraphy and the Arts of the Book in Sultanate India
Friday 20 September - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

A lecture by Eloïse Brac de la Perrière. Numerous fields of investigation await the attention of specialists of Sultanate India. In particular, the study of illustrated manuscripts offers many perspectives: the iconography, the text, and the book itself, including its materials and their assemblage. The calligraphy from this period has scarcely been studied, despite its marked peculiarities. Calligraphy also provides a bridge between the artistic, intellectual and spiritual fields.

Conference
01 - 03
Oct Oct
Futures Thinking Conference
Tuesday 1 October - 8:30am to Thursday 3 October - 1:00pm

Futures Thinking is a TORCH research network that uses Humanities methodologies to think through future-oriented technologies and concerns. This conference seeks to explore the future of reading and narrative in relation to how questions of inequality, bias in programming and developing technologies are changing the way that human beings create and interact with narrative and the self.

Networking
04 - 04
Oct Oct
RF/JRF Lunch Table
Friday 4 October - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

RF/JRF informal lunch table in Hall (12:30-1:30pm). Wine and beer are served. Partners and children are welcome.