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

23 October 2017
Imagining the Divine: Exhibition

Wolfson scholars collaborate on a unique exhibition on the art of major world religions at the Ashmolean Museum.

23 October 2017
The College Record 2017

The Wolfson College Record is a formal account of the past year and includes the final President's Letter from Professor Dame Hermione Lee.

Philomen Probert
9 October 2017
Message from the Acting President

A warm welcome to those new to Wolfson, and a warm welcome back to those who have been travelling during the summer or hiding away in libraries or...

Our upcoming events

Concert and Plays
24 - 24
Oct Oct
Staging the Modernist Life: Auto/biography, performance, and H.D.
Tuesday 24 October -
1:30pm to 2:30pm

In this lecture/performance, Sasha Colby will discuss the process of transforming auto/biographical materials into biographical drama in her recent book project Staging Modernist Lives: H.D., Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Three Plays and Criticism (McGill-Queen's UP, 2017). With an emphasis on the poet, novelist, and memoirist H.D.

Networking
24 - 24
Oct Oct
Slanguages exhibition: launch party
Tuesday 24 October -
4:00pm to 7:00pm

Our Creative Multilingualism Languages in the Creative Economy exhibition will feature the work, archives and ephemera related to the work of three Birmingham-based artists who use different languages in their musical and artistic work.

Lectures and Seminars
25 - 25
Oct Oct
Tennyson, Celebrity and Portraiture
Wednesday 25 October -
5:30pm to 7:00pm

This lecture will explore how publishers became responsible for promoting authors through portraiture in the mid-Victorian period. In particular it will focus on Edward Moxon and his role in expanding the readership of both William Wordsworth and Alfred Tennyson. While portraits of Wordsworth were relatively scarce, Tennyson was surrounded by sculptors, painters and photographers, which led to a new and disturbing experience of literary celebrity that had a major impact on his career.