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CLSG Autumn Conference 2014

The Lord of Hosts and the Pity of (the Great) War

Saturday 1 November 2014
Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Bookings to be completed by 27 October

Valentine Cunningham
‘Remembering the Lord God of Hosts, with Kipling, Owen and Derrida’

Roger Kojecký
 ‘Send forth lightning’: morality, mimesis and rhetoric in the Great War’

Jewel Spears Brooker
 ‘Biblical Archetypes in Katherine Anne Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider

So Young Park
 ‘Ballads for the Young and Dying: The War Poetry of Thomas Hardy and Dora Sigerson Shorter’

Conference leaflet with full details

During WW1 the language of heroism and holy war was succeeded by images of hell and horror where the soldier was not so much a hero as a victim. Jingoism gave way to protest, and war was no longer a story leading to victory but a drawn out catastrophe. Wilfred Owen believed that new moral landscapes of the new hell were needed. In avant-garde poetry late Romantic Georgian expressions gave way to forms of Modernism. Three thousand volumes of poetry were published during the war years. In Germany 50,000 war poems a day were submitted for publication during August 1914. In France Barbusse’s novel Le Feu delivered during the war a Zolaesque indictment drawing on images of the Flood and apocalypse.  All Quiet On the Western Front was a German response, eleven years after its end, to the traumas of the war. Numerous works pursued these themes in poetry, prose, theatre and film.

It was ‘the most literary and most poetical war in English history’ (Paul Fussell). Biblical metaphors abounded of sacrifice, crucifixion, apocalypse. Three thousand years previously the psalmist of Ps 60 had appealed to God who used to ‘go out with our armies’ but had it seemed rejected his people. The psalmist hoped and prayed that now: ‘with God we shall gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.’ In the NT Paul noted how, paradoxically, Christ ‘disarmed the powers and authorities, and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (Col. 2:15).

The day allows for up to five papers, followed by seminar-style discussion. Papers will discuss literary responses to the War, or consider rhetorical use of concepts such as ‘the Lord of Hosts’ (Yahweh Sabaoth). Papers will very likely be published subsequently in The Glass. Preference is as always given to contributions exploring Christian and Biblical themes in literature.


Members and non-members will be welcome.

CLSG: exploring Christian and Biblical themes in literature

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Christian Literary Studies Group: in association with the Universities & Colleges Christian Fellowship


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