"Knowing you will understand”: The Usage of Poetry as a Historical Source about the Experience of the First World War


  • Julia Ribeiro S C Thomaz Université Paris Nanterre, France




Poetry, English, French, Culture, History


For the last century, historians of the conflict have not systematically used the poetry of the First World War as a source. Whether reduced to a canon established a posteriori or excluded from literary periodisation altogether, this corpus needs to be considered from a transdisciplinary perspective and be used as a document about the experience of war itself, and not just about the conflict’s remembrance. The present article aims to present the French and British landscape of research about the poetry of the Great War and to establish a theoretical framework combining literary history, anthropology, literary criticism, and linguistics, which will allow for the usage of poetry as a historical source. Finally, the article will discuss two digital humanities projects which draw upon the Centenary to contribute to the establishment of a relation between History and Poetics in the context of the sources available to the cultural historian looking at how individuals internalised a culture shared by all those who experienced the war and at how the poetic gesture shaped the experience of war itself.


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How to Cite

Ribeiro S C Thomaz, Julia. 2018. “"Knowing You Will understand”: The Usage of Poetry As a Historical Source about the Experience of the First World War”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 31 (December):109-24. https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2018.31.07.