This is a call for early-career researchers, historians, military science professionals, and others with an interest in parsing the lasting effects times of attrition have on societies. As a compilation book each chapter will be an essay which deals with the legacy of warfare. In its entirety, this work seeks to incorporate drama and the performing arts into the scholarly discourse surrounding healing from veteran and civilian war trauma. There are traceable moments throughout Antiquity where we can see war trauma filtering into modes of performance. Archetypes of what it means to be both a soldier, and a traumatized veteran often reinforce by representations of these figures in Films, Dramatic works, Poetry, Embodied Performances, and Live Reenactments.
Some guiding questions: How have civilians and veterans have reinforced the Western ideal of a Homeric warrior, and in what ways has that iconic figure been replicated throughout history?
How does that reveal a tension between the ideal of a valorous soldier and ex-combatant anti-war narratives?
The cracks of stoicism recorded in Homer’s Iliad, the First World War’s les heroes sans glorie, 21st century cinematic representations of drone-operators all show moments where civilians and veterans are presenting a more fragmented warrior-figure. What I mean is there is an unlooked history of authors, playwrights, and performers inserting character flaws and trauma into their warriors. Scenes of unnecessary cruelty, a soldier’s remorse, notions like a soldier’s heart and Shellshock all exist in these so-called ‘heroic epics’. Scholars often place war-praise works in opposition to complex anti-heroic soldier figures and call those works anti-war. However, if we look closely at the ‘heroic-warrior’ the same character flaws exist just the same.
Why does there seem to be a transtemporal desire to keep an image of soldierhood as a stoic warrior, able to separate his/her humanity?
Is the state of veternhood the process of attempting to fuse the ‘human’ back into their existence? This book is also interested in how veterans attempt to exit wars, unearthing the flaws in the heroic-warrior figure throughout history, and attempts to see plays that show a morally aware soldier as something other than an anti-war critical condemnation of attrition.
The aspects of soldierhood that complicate the stoic figure of a detached warrior are timeless, the same way trauma is. I propose we re-look at the archetypes of a glorious warrior in Antiquity and the ways we can unpack what makes up a soldier to reveal the flaws. For instance, the Christmas Truce of 1914 lifted the veil between the solider and the boy; is there a mirror occurrence in antiquity where the gaze of the warrior slips? In antiquity, Achilles who after having his war prize taken from him goes AWOL and plays the lyre. 100 Years War mercenaries and US soldiers' diaries recorded the same thing during the First and Second World War. This suggests that soldiers have for centuries been carving out moments of at-ease, moments where while in war they create peace.
Scholars often link the history of performance and theatre to the expression of trauma:
Aeschylus — The Oresteia (Generational Transmission of Trauma)
Anouilh, Jean — Traveller Without Luggage (Mental Dissonance)
Beckett, Samuel — Waiting on Godot (Waiting in Grief)
Coward, Noel — Post-Mortem (Mother/Lover Mourning)
Federici, Mario — Long March Back (Survivor Guilt, War Trauma)
Homer — Odyssey (Survivor Grief); Iliad (Combat Trauma)
Kane, Sarah — 4.48 Psychosis (Mental Dissonance)
O’Neill, Eugene — Long Day's Journey into Night (Denial/Lament)
The Laramie Project
Tomholt, Sydney — Searchlights (Lover/Sister Mourning)
Sophocles — Antigone (Mourning Death)
Shakespeare, William — Henry IV Part I (PTSD within the Family)
The transmission of war trauma into modes of performance is relevant for understanding our present-day state of conflict and the new emerging figure of a distanced killing soldier who operates drones and does not engage in hand-to-hand combat. Often the most singularly used phrase I hear from veterans I talk with is that they have killed no one, and war is not what it was like before. They talk about how their war is not the same as the First or Second World War, and I wonder why that is when they are expressing the same sentiments their forefathers have been expressing for a millennium. Matt Young, who just recently published a memoir “Eat the Apple” speaks on this seemingly unmet expectation of being a soldier.
If we show veterans today that soldiers have always been complex, morally and emotionally conflicted, and disillusioned by what they thought war would be like; we might remove some guilt and isolation they feel. Or at the very least, reconcile who they are as a veteran to who they were as a soldier.
Essays written on any of the following topics are greatly encouraged but all essays on the general topic of military history and the ramifications of war on societies are considered:
- Defining Veteran-hood and Soldier-hood
- Experiences of ex-combatants in war
- Instances of warfare translated into the performing arts
- The figure of ‘les heroes sans glorie’
- The lasting literary tradition of the Homeric stoic warrior
- Instances of transmitting war trauma into the performing arts
- Oral History recording of veteran remembrance
- Drone operators and the emergence of distanced killing
- Soft power and the evolution of weaponized information
- Historiography of the soldier’s heart, shellshock, psychological trauma of war
- Tracing the advancements warfare has led to in industry, economy, and entertainment
- The legacy of grieving the war dead
- Historiography of performing grief for the war dead on an individual/national level
To submit an essay for publication in the compilation book “Ramifications of War on Society” please email Anna Rindfleisch at email@example.com with an abstract (max 300 words) and brief bio.
Deadline for abstract submission: March 29, 2021
Acceptances of abstracts sent out: May 13, 2021
Manuscript submission: January 2022
Email abstracts to: firstname.lastname@example.org