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The Great War and its Legacy, 1914-1918: Spring 2015 Programs

An informational guide to the programming series on the legacy of World War I beginning in Fall 2014 and concluding in Fall 2018. The series was co-sponsored by the OSU Library and OSU Department of History.

Spring 2015 Programs

Religion on the Western Front

Dr. Joseph F. Byrnes, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Oklahoma State University

Thursday, March 12, 2015, 3:30 p.m., Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room, Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University

Program Description:

Attempts to survive and make sense of the horrors of World War I often involved the efforts of church people--preaching and consoling--and the activities of the soldiers themselves--taking part in religious services and writing down their experiences in letters and diaries.  We can ask the broad question: How did these men and women interpret the presence of God on the battle front and at home?  How can the historian, without passing judgment on motives and morality, make sense of the testimonies available?  Is a history of "God on the Western Front" possible? ---A look at the evidence and ways of telling the story.


Joseph F. Byrnes is Professor Emeritus of History, having taught at OSU from 1976 to 2014.  He is a specialist in modern European History, and his two most recent books are Catholic and French Forever: Religious and National Identity in Modern France and Priests of the French Revolution: Saints and Renegades in a New Political Era.  The chapter in Catholic and French Forever entitled "The Limits of Reconciliation: Priests and Instituteurs in World War I," on the experiences of secularist teachers and priests in the trenches of World War I is one of the sources of his current work.  He is now planning a full length book about preaching and religious practice on the Western Front and on the home fronts in England, France, and Germany.

View the lecture video below:


The Great War and the Russian Revolution

Dr. Joel Jenswold, Director of Academic Programs and Humphreys Chair, School of International Studies, Oklahoma State University

Wednesday, April 8, 2015, 3:30 p.m., Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room, Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University

Program Description:

In 1913, the Romanov dynasty of Russia celebrated the 300th anniversary of its founding.  Yet a mere four years later, it fell with very little resistance after women standing in breadlines sparked a revolt one cold night.  How did this happen, and what role did the Great War play in the downfall of the Russian Empire and the eventual rise of the Bolshevik state?


Joel M. Jenswold (Ph.D., University of Kansas) is the Director of Academic Programs for the School of International Studies and a Humphreys Chair in International Studies. He oversees the Masters’ programs and the undergraduate minor option in International Studies. He has been on the faculty of the OSU Political Science department for 28 years, specializing in Soviet and post-Soviet politics. He also teaches courses in general comparative politics, political theory, international law, and international relations. He has won college and university level teaching awards. His published work includes political aspects of media, international leases, post-Soviet political and economic transformation, and regional politics and security.

View the lecture video below:



The Great War and Its Legacy: A Piano Performance of World War I-Era Music by Perry Gethner

Dr. Perry Gethner, Regents Professor, Norris Professor of French, Oklahoma State University

Wednesday, April 15, 7:00 p.m.., Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room, Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University

Program Description:

Dr. Gethner will discuss some of the varying attitudes composers had about World War I and how the war affected their production of piano music, mainly focusing on France but also touching on Spain and England. He will perform a series of short works by Granados, Bridge, Milhaud, Vierne, Ravel and Satie.


Perry Gethner is Regents Professor, Norris Professor of French, and head of the Department of Foreign Languages. He has published numerous articles on topics relating to early modern French drama and opera. In addition, he has published critical editions and translations of texts, mostly plays, from that period, by such authors as Rotrou, Voltaire and a variety of female playwrights. He also performs on the piano in both solo and chamber music concerts.