Writing the World Wars

University College Cork - 25-26 August 2022


Silvia Ross, Giovanni Pietro Vitali, Guido Bartolini

University College Cork

We are pleased to announce that this conference, which was postponed in 2020, will be held as a rescheduled in-person event on 25-26 August 2022. 

The World Wars are two historical events that were characterized by an abundance of documents written by individuals. The upsurge of popular writings concerned all the countries that were involved in both Wars. These documents are important both historically and linguistically. The study of war writings has always been extremely important but it has been characterized by a new vigour due to the recent centenary of the First World War, and because of the emergence of new theories, such as gender and conflict theories, or the development of new tools, for example the Digital Humanities.

Our aim is to take stock of the state of studies on war writing at the turn of the two world wars.

The focus of this conference is to start from a comparative and multilingual perspective and then move on to the specific case of Italy. These two days of study form part of the MSCA-funded project Last Letters from the World Wars: Forming Italian Language, Identity and Memory in Texts of Conflict that will be presented during the event.

The first day will be devoted to English-language contributions on European war writing. We would like to propose an overview of war writings in European countries in several languages such as English, French, Spanish, Irish, etc. for the first day. The subsequent day will be dedicated to Italian studies and papers in both English and Italian will be accepted.

By war writing we mean primarily:

- Popular writings such as letters, diaries and reports.

- Literature that takes the world wars as its topic.

- Professional and technical writings such as: legal texts, war bulletins, the press and periodicals.

Papers will also be considered on the following subject areas:

- Audio and video documents such as documentaries or films dedicated to the two war events.

- Graphic and artistic representations such as propaganda posters or illustrations in newspapers and photographs.

Some of the original keynote speakers and participants have confirmed their presence, so we therefore can accept a limited number of further proposals. This conference is designed to reflect on the interdisciplinary study of the two wars across several disciplines. The aim is to foster discussion and dialogue across texts and nationalities and for this reason we have envisioned a participatory workshop format for the event.

Provisional program

24 August – Welcome reception

25 August – Multilingual approaches

9:30-10 Registration

10-10:30 a.m. Opening remarks

10:30-12:30 World War I Sessions (4 papers)

12:30-14 Lunch Break

14-16 World War II Session (4 papers)

16:30-18:00 Keynote speech by Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat - New York University

26 August – Italian Studies

9-11 World War I Sessions (4 papers)

11:30-13 Keynote speech by Professor Barbara Meazzi - Université Côte d'Azur


13-14 Lunch

14-16 World War II Session (4 papers)

16:30-18h Keynote speech by Professor Phil Cooke – University College Cork

18h-19h Closure of proceedings and conclusions by Dr Silvia Ross – University College Cork

We reserve the right to rework the programme on the basis of the proposals that we receive.


The organizers invite submissions for 20-minute presentations to be delivered in English (first and second day) or Italian (only on the second day). Please send a 300-word abstract, contact details and a brief bio by Friday, 1 July 2022 to Giovanni Pietro Vitali – giovannipietrovitali@gmail.com – Silvia Ross - s.ross@ucc.ie and Guido Bartolini - gbartolini@ucc.ie

Please note: there will be a fee of €30 to help defray catering costs. Postgraduates, ECRs and the unwaged will not be charged a fee.

Conference web site: https://www.ucc.ie/en/italian/events/

Sponsored by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Dublin; the Department of Italian, UCC; the Centre for the Advanced Study of Languages and Cultures, UCC; the European Research Council [MSCA].

Department of Italian


First Floor Block A West, O' Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Ireland