Landscapes of the Western Front
Materiality During the Great War
By Ross Wilson
Published October 24th 2011 by Routledge – 244 pages
This book examines the British soldiers on the Western Front and how they responded to the war landscape they encountered behind the lines and at the front. Using a multidisciplinary perspective, this study investigates the relationship between soldiers and the spaces and materials of the warzone, analyzing how soldiers constructed a ‘sense of place’ in the hostile, unpredictable environment. Drawing upon recent developments within First World War Studies and the anthropological examination of the fields of conflict, an ethnohistorical perspective of the soldiers is built which details the various ways soldiers responded to the physical and material world of the Western Front. This study is also grounded in the wider debates on how the First World War is remembered within Britain and offers an alternative perspective on the individuals who fought in the world’s first global conflagration nearly a century ago.
‘A provocative demonstration of the ways British soldiers familiarized the unnatural and came to terms with the multiple Hells of the Western Front.’ – Dennis Showalter, Colorado College, USA
1. Introduction 2. Representing the Western Front: Locating the Individual 3. The Western Front, 1914-1918 4. Behind the Lines 5. In the Trenches 6. The Materials of War 7. Conclusions Bibliography Index
Ross Wilson is a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past in the Department of History, University of York, UK. He has research interests in the fields of heritage, landscapes, material culture and cultural representation. His doctoral research (York, 2008) focused on the battlefields of the Western Front (1914-1918) and the manner in which they have been portrayed and remembered through the memorial landscape, historiography, literature, film and archaeology.