UCL European Institute


The Great War and the Idea of Europe

30 July 2014, 12:00 am

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30 July-1 August 2014
Marking the centennial of the outbreak of the Great War, UCL hosts an international conference with intellectual and cultural historians, historians of literature, of political ideas, of art and European Studies broadly speaking, in order to shed light on the consequences of the war on conceptions of Europe among intellectuals, writers, men of letters, and politicians.


30 July - 1 August 2014

UCL and University of East Anglia


University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

It is often argued by intellectual historians and scholars of the European integration process that public debates on European identity and continental unification first emerged in the interwar period (with a remarkable renaissance amongst resistance groups during the Second World War).

These views and projects were not built on a void. Indeed, the notion and topic of 'Europe' had attracted considerable attention and discussion already before and during the First World War. Between the summer of 1914 and the end of 1918 many intellectuals, historians, philosophers, economists, politicians, and artists highlighted the existence of a certain European togetherness, a kind of 'spiritual' unity that tied together the nations which fought one another, and argued that this sense of commonality and shared fate had to be preserved at all cost. Going beyond mere calls for peace, they referred to complex, protean, fluctuant, and multifarious conceptions, images, and representations of 'Europe'.

In recent years, several works on the history of the idea of Europe have included the First World War. However, research on discourses about Europe has not focused expressly on the period, nor has the specific relationship between the Great War and the way Europe was represented and imagined been properly analysed. Marking the centennial of the outbreak of the Great War, University College London will host an international conference that tries to address such issues. Generously sponsored by UCL's European Institute, UCL's School of European Languages, Cultures and Societies, and by the School of History at the University of East Anglia, the conference will bring together intellectual and cultural historians, historians of literature, of political ideas, of art and, more generally, scholars interested in European Studies from all across Europe. The aim is to shed light on the consequences of the war on conceptions of Europe among intellectuals, writers, men of letters, and politicians. It will highlight, above all, the courage - or the folly - of some men and women who, in spite of the ongoing tragedy, still had the courage to imagine a better and united Europe. 



9am: Registration and Welcoming Remarks

9.30-11.00: Representing Europe during the Great War

  • Jan Vermeiren (University of East Anglia), The European Idea on the Eve of World War One: Continuities and Discontinuities
  • Matthew D'Auria (University College London), Civilisation vs Kultur: The Struggle for Europe during the Great War
  • David Stevenson (London School of Economics), The First World War and European Integration

Coffee Break

11.30-1.00: Art and Architecture

  • Lara Day (University of Edinburgh), Constructing a National Aesthetic in the Face of the Great War: The Idea of Europe in Wilhelmine Discussions of Art and Architecture
  • Richard Deswarte (University of East Anglia), Visualisations of Europe during the First World War
  • Michael Wintle (University of Amsterdam), The Tenacity of European Self-Esteem during the First World War: Examples from Architecture and the Visual Arts

Lunch Break

2.30-3.30: The French and Belgian Discourses - Part I

  • Giuseppe Foscari (University of Salerno), Henri Pirenne's History of Europe (1917) in the Context of the Great War
  • Antonio Tucci (University of Salerno), Durkheim Between Kant and Hegel: Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism

Coffee Break

4.00-6.00: The Italian Discourse - Part I

  • Silvio Berardi (University Niccolò Cusano - Roma), Francesco Saverio Nitti and the United States of Europe
  • Danilo Breschi (UNINT - Rome), A Sudden Oldness for a Young Europe: Guglielmo Ferrero and the Great War
  • Marcello Gisondi (University of Lugano), 'La Jeune Europe': Masses, Anti-Militarism and Moral Reformation in the Banfi-Caffi Correspondence
  • Annamaria Amato (University of Salerno), From the Critique of the League of Nations to European Federalism: Einaudi, Agnelli and Cabiati

9.30-11.30: The German Discourse

  • Landry Charrier (University of Clermont-Ferrand II), The European Project of Georg Friedrich Nicolaï during the Great War
  • Florian Greiner (University of Augsburg), Mitteleuropa - Friedrich Naumann, Central Europe and the First World War
  • Ulrich Tiedau (University College London), Max Waechter's European Unity League during World War One
  • Francesca Lacaita (University of St. Andrews), Reacting to Conflict, Imagining Europe: Karl Kautsky and Eduard Bernstein during the First World War

Coffee Break

12.00-1.30: The Austrian Discourse

  • Laura Bazzicalupo (University of Salerno), A Unitary or an Undetermined Soul for Europe? Mann and Musil
  • Vittorio Dini (University of Salerno), Karl Kraus and the First World War: Apocalypse of Europe and of Humanity
  • Peter Pichler (University of Graz), On the Trail of a Discourse: Austrian Intellectuals, the First World War and Europe

Lunch Break

3.00-4.30: The British Discourse

  • Michael Burgess (University of Kent), Overlapping Concepts and Ambiguous Plans: British Federal Ideas for the British on the Eve of the First World War
  • Federico Leonardi (University San Raffaele - Milan), Spengler and Toynbee: Europe's Unity as War or Beyond the War?
  • Georgios Giannakopoulos (Queen Mary University of London), Britain and the Making of a New Europe during the Great War: The Case of the New Europe Magazine

Coffee Break

5.00-6.00: Europe and the non-European World

  • Dina Gusejnova (University College London), What They Saw through the Magic Lantern: The YMCA's Role in Shaping 'Young India' during Europe's World Wars
  • Jeff Roquen (Lehigh University), Woodrow Wilson's Vision of Europe: Through the Prism of Human Rights
FRIDAY 1 August

9.30-11.00: The French and Belgian Discourses - Part II

  • Claudia Landolfi (University of Maastricht), 'Everything Begins in Mysticism and Ends in Politics': Péguy and the Republican Mystic
  • François Bordes (Institut Mémoires des Editions Contemporaines, Paris), Élie Faure, the War and the European Spirit
  • Annamaria Ducci (Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art, Paris), Élie Faure 'le constructeur': Arts, Politics and the European Mind

Coffee Break

11.30-12.30: The Neutral Countries

  • Maximiliano Fuentes Codera (University of Gerona), The Idea of Europe and Nationalist Attitudes in Neutral Spain (1914-1918)
  • Anne-Isabelle Richard (University of Leiden), 'The Only Solution, European Federation': The Idea of Europe in the Neutral Netherlands


More Information

This project is supported by UCL European Institute's Call for Proposal

 Also supported by:

  • UCL School of European Languages, Cultures and Societies
  • UCL Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies
  • School of History, University of East Anglia