This semester the Art History department offered a course titled Cultural Reactions to War in the 20th Century. The class studied painting, posters, music, poetry, prose, and films that were all created in reaction to WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War. The course explored how soldiers attempted to confront what had happened to them during the war and how civilians attempted to understand and either support or protest the conflicts.
For the final project, the graduate students were challenged to utilize primary sources found in The Department of Special Collections and University Archives at McFarlin Library to investigate a question related to war in the 20th or 21st century that interested them. The students were encouraged to have their final product take form as something that would best suit their topic. As a student in the class, I decided to create a website as I thought that would best present my topic and would allow the most people to experience it. When in Special Collections, I became fascinated by a collection of stereocards from WWI (1000.095). These cards were created to allow the audience to take an image of an event and look at it through special goggles in order to make the image to appear to be 3-dimensional. The cards that Special Collections has have captions on the back that explain to the viewer what is occurring in the image. These captions often use language that is biased in some way. I wanted to explore how these captions would affect the viewer’s perception of the image. The essays on the website focus on four topics: the cards themselves, people from colonized territories, the ruins left behind by the war, and new technologies developed during the war. If you are interested, you can take a look at the website here: https://greatwarstereographs.wordpress.com. If you would like to find out more about our stereocard collection you can search our digital collections website here: http://cdm15887.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/searchterm/1000.095/order/nosort.
The undergraduate students in the class curated a WWI display in Special Collections for their final project. Topics include the home front, new technologies, and how Christmas was observed during the war. If you are interested in stereocards there are several in the display cases for the exhibition. The exhibit will be up until the beginning of January and you can come see it Monday-Friday from 8am until 5pm.