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The deluge that is the centenary of 1914–18 war is upon us. As the commemoration period rolls on over the next four, five or even more years – the centenaries of unveiling war memorials will take us well into the 2020s – the number of books, newspaper, magazine, TV, radio and online contributions is already greater than any one person might hope to keep up with – even should he or she wish.
Endless books have attempted to answer the question as to why the First World War broke out in summer 1914, and the centenary of the July crisis will no doubt prompt historians and popular audiences to further revisit the circumstances in which European leaders ‘sleepwalked’ into a military conflict of unprecedented proportions.
The study of war and memory has been popular amongst cultural historians for over two decades, yet scholarly interest in the subject shows no sign of abating. Indeed, as this collection demonstrates, memory remains a fruitful area of research, particularly if approached from a comparative perspective.
Timing counts for so much in publishing and that is never clearer than when a major anniversary approaches. With the centenary of the First World War not yet actually upon us, there has already been a rush of publications. Meanwhile, just as many of the grandest television and radio programmes promised by the BBC have already been aired. Do we know anything we did not know a year or two ago?
While there has been sustained focus on modern women’s relationship to their culture and society, and, with the upcoming centennial commemorations of the First World War a surge of renewed interest in the art generated by the conflict, war-related imagery produced by women artists remains largely overlooked.