Historians have long used literary texts about World War One as a major source for their analysis of the event. In the past decades, they have expanded their repertoire to a larger array of texts written by “ordinary witnesses,” and especially journals, letters and postwar testimonies of many kinds. Cultural historian Nicolas Beaupré, in discussion with Thomas Dodman, describes how literary practices responded to the imperative to bear witness to the great tragedy of the war.
Nicolas Beaupré is Associate Professor of History at the University Clermont Auvergne and the author of Ecrire en guerre, écrire la guerre (France, Allemagne 1914-1920), Les Grandes Guerres 1914-1945, La Grande Guerre. Histoire Franco-allemande 1918-1933, La France en guerre 1914-1918. Thomas Dodman is Assistant professor of French at Columbia University and the author of What Nostalgia Was: War, Empire, and the Time of a Deadly Emotion (forthcoming).