A history of memory from the Trojan War to the Great War, implicating electronic media in a new Homeric mode.
Why does the Great War seem part of modern memory when its rituals of mourning and remembrance were traditional, romantic, even classical? In this highly original history of memory, David Williams shows how classic Great War literature, including work by Remarque, Owen, Sassoon, and Harrison, was symptomatic of a cultural crisis brought on by the advent of cinema. He argues that images from Geoffrey Malins' hugely popular war film The Battle of the Somme (1916) collapsed social, temporal, and spatial boundaries, giving film a new cultural legitimacy, while the appearance of writings based on cinematic forms of remembering marked a crucial transition from a verbal to a visual culture. By contrast, today's digital media are laying the ground for a return to Homeric memory, whether in History Television, the digital Memory Project, or the interactive war museum.
Of interest to historians, classicists, media and digital theorists, literary scholars, museologists, and archivists, Media, Memory, and the First World War is a comparative study that shows how the dominant mode of communication in a popular culture - from oral traditions to digital media - shapes the structure of memory within that culture.