The year 2014 will mark the centennial of the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. This historic anniversary will likely provoke several discussions from all fields in the humanities concerning the Great War's significance on contemporary culture through history, visual art, and in the case of this essay: literature. In light of this event, any serious discussion among scholars should undeniably begin with how the war continues to be represented today through a thorough, contemporary analysis of its many key literary texts. This essay will examine, in this regard, how past and contemporary discourses in literary theory-primarily concerned with how an individual combatant subject attempts to construct and understand their own traumatic experiences through poetic and literary discourse-can continue to incite discussion on why literature of the Great War and its influential role in defining how it has come to be understood in our cultural memory remains relevant even today. Under the guiding influence of Paul Fussell's classic The Great War and Modern Memory, I will discuss how three important works-a poetry collection, a memoir, and a modern work of historical fiction-all contribute to how the war has become represented as a tragic rupture in history that reversed the idea of human progress and left an entire generation disillusioned in its aftermath, regardless of the historical veracity of this legacy. The texts I will be examining include: select poems of Wilfred Owen, Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves, and Regeneration by Pat Barker. In addition to this, I will conclude with an analysis of how a contemporary reading of these texts can contribute to a larger discussion of the crisis of historicity in our current post-modern cultural landscape.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Kelly, Dylan, "Crisis, Shell-Shock, and the Temporality of Trauma: Cultural Memory and the Great War Combatant Experience in Owen, Graves, and Barker" (2014). HIM 1990-2015. 1583.