Friday, October 30, 2009

From The Western Front To The Home Front: World War I Historian Presents Armistice Day Lecture At Washington College

Chestertown – Martha Hanna, Professor of History at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will present “Husbands and Wives, Fathers and Children: Family Life and Military Service in France during World War I” at Washington College’s Litrenta Lecture Hall on Wednesday, November 11, at 5:30 p.m.

The event, this year’s Conrad M. Wingate Memorial Lecture in History, is being held on November 11 to honor the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.

Dr. Hanna is a specialist in the history of modern France, with a particular interest in the First World War. During a research trip to Paris in  2000, she unearthed a previously unknown collection of wartime letters written by a peasant couple, Paul and Marie Pireaud.

The Pireauds had been married only six months when World War I began in 1914. Called up to serve in the French Army for almost five years, Paul saw action in some of France’s bloodiest battles, while Marie joined her parents and in-laws in tending the farm that had been left in their care.

The letters of Marie and Paul chronicle the day-to-day life, anxieties and abiding love of a couple separated by war.

Numbering well over a thousand letters, the Pireaud collection – perhaps the only extant collection of letters written by French peasants that includes the letters of both husband and wife – formed the foundation of Dr. Hanna’s latest book, Your Death Would Be Mine: Paul and Marie Pireaud in the Great War (Harvard University Press, 2008).

Examining wartime experience from the vantage points of both the military and home fronts, Your Death Would Be Mine was hailed by the London Review of Books as “a vivid picture of the Great War.” In a starred review, Booklist enthused, “Hanna offers a fascinating look at one peasant couple separated and in love….”

Your Death Would Be Mine won the American Historical Association’s 2007 J. Russell Major Prize, the Society for Military History’s 2008 Distinguished Book Award (Biography and Memoir category) and the 2007 Colorado Book Award for History/Biography.

Dr. Hanna also is the author of The Mobilization of Intellect: French Scholars and Writers During the Great War (Harvard University Press, 1996) and numerous articles on the cultural history of France during the early 20th century.

The Conrad M. Wingate Memorial Lecture in History is held in honor of the late Conrad Meade Wingate ’23, brother of late Washington College Visitor Emeritus Phillip J. Wingate ’33 and the late Carolyn Wingate Todd.

Litrenta Lecture Hall is located in the John S. Toll Science Center. Admission to “Husbands and Wives, Fathers and Children: Family Life and Military Service in France During World War I” is free and open to the public.

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