Search type

School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

Lecture recordings

Our academic staff share their expertise in open lecture series "Meet the Researchers" and "The Different Faces of WW1".

Find out more and listen to the individual lectures in the boxes below, and listen to all lectures in the playlist at the bottom of the page.

Integration and Racism in the French Republic

Barbara Lebrun

The January and November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris have led to a nationwide re-appraisal of the ‘republican’ values of universalism, humanism and integration, and to the symbolic foregrounding of the term ‘republic/republican’ in official discourse, not least in the naming of the ‘Marche de la République’ on 11 January 2015, led by the Socialist president, and the rebranding of the Conservative party (formerly the UMP) as ‘Les Républicains’ in May.

Nonetheless, the last 25 years have also seen a growing criticism of the very notion of republicanism, as different sections of the French population (and some critics abroad) underline the shortcomings of the French Republic as an institution, especially in relation to the economic integration of post-colonial migrants and to the cultural expression of France’s Muslim population.

Many, in fact, now argue that the French Republic needs less, rather than more, ‘republicanism’. To contextualise the terms of this debate, this lecture will return to the basics of French national identity by defining republicanism and its core values (humanism, secularism, integration…), and by explaining the challenges to this ideology in the post-colonial context. (recorded 25 November 2015)

Europe on the Move: the Great War and its Refugees

Prof Peter Gatrell (Department of History)

The First World War is regularly depicted as stalemate on the Western front, but across much of the European continent the experience was quite different, particularly for millions of civilians who were displaced by the war. A senior Red Cross official wrote ‘there were refugees everywhere. It was as if the entire world had to move or was waiting to move’.

This lecture outlines the causes and extent of this crisis and how ordinary people tried to come to terms with their experiences. It concludes by assessing the significance of the refugee crisis a century later. (recorded 23 October 2013)

Ireland and the First World War

Patrick Doyle (Department of History)

When Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, Ireland was in the midst of a political crisis. Nationalists and unionists were bitterly opposed over the issue of Home Rule which provided political autonomy for Ireland by establishing an Irish parliament. From 1913, Unionists and Nationalists had formed armed militias to oppose or support this legislation.

The outbreak of the First World War temporarily defused this situation and it appeared that civil war had been averted. In September 1914, the Home Rule Act was passed through parliament, which granted Ireland powers of self-government, although the outbreak of war meant that the British government delayed its application. However, Home Rule was never implemented.

The years 1914-18 represented an important period in Ireland’s history. The British war effort was supported by both Nationalists and Unionists with members from both communities joining the army in large numbers. However, in 1916, the outbreak of the nationalist rebellion against British rule in Dublin shifted the political climate once again, and nationalists became increasingly critical of Irish involvement in a ‘foreign’ war.

This lecture outlines the huge political and changes that occurred in Ireland during the war and looks at the motivations of nationalists and unionists in their support or opposition to the war effort. The lecture will conclude by commenting upon the long-term impact of the war upon Irish society and considers the how the event is commemorated and contested. (recorded 6 November 2013)

'Mobilise the Nation for a Holy War'- Churches, Chaplains and British Religion in World War I

Dr Andrew Crome (Department of Religions and Theology)

This talk examines the role of religion both on the front and in Britain during the First World War. British churches in the period have often been accused of failing to engage with the morality of warfare, with Protestant chaplains often portrayed as inefficient and disconnected from the majority of soldiers.

This talk asks whether this criticism is justified, and will look at how religious beliefs changed for soldiers and for those in England dealing with the uncertainty and loss of warfare.  (recorded 4 December 2013)

The First World War - Literary Enchantments and Disenchantments

Dr Andrew Frayn (Department of English, American Studies & Creative Writing)

It is too often taken as a given that literature about the First World War was disenchanted, or disillusioned.  This talk argues firstly that the enchantments about the war, the 'big words' which Ernest Hemingway believed were eradicated as a result, endured long after the war, and must be seen as interlinked with those negative reassessments. 

Secondly, disenchantment was not only a response to the war, but also to industrial, urban modernity: a language of disenchantment was used to talk about life in the city and the poor conditions therein long before 1914. (recorded 11 December 2013)

Singing the War in France

Dr Barbara Lebrun (French Studies)

From August 1914, professional cabaret singers started to write and perform songs that addressed the conflict, initially with much patriotism and enthusiasm for France's participation in the war. Around 1916 however, as the war continued and the dead grew in numbers, so the kinds of musical and popular entertainment offered to the troops and the civilians changed, often representing the war with more ambivalence and anti-militaristic sentiments. This talk will introduce some of the best known French acts and songs of the Great War. (recorded 18 December 2013)

The music clips were taken out of the podcast to comply with copyright regulations. Please access the music samples via these links: 

Music during Wartime

Dr Laura Tunbridge (Department of Music)

The lecture explores the different ways in which music was used during WWI: as a way to express feelings about the enemy; as a means to rally the troops; and as a way to commemorate the dead and console the bereaved. (recorded 16 October 2013)

The music clips were taken out of the podcast to comply with copyright regulations. Please access the music samples these links:


The following playlist features all of the lecture recordings: