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Article: Between the shells : the production of Belgian, British and French trench journals in the First World War


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Between the shells : the production of Belgian, British and French trench journals in the First World War

Cedric Van Dijck ,  Marysa Demoor  and Sarah Posman

Publishing History,  2017, 77 : 67-89

Cedric Van Dijck (UGent), Marysa Demoor (UGent) and Sarah Posman (UGent)
Modernism at the Front: Modernist Temporality in British War Journals and Magazines, 1914-1918
This comparative essay focuses on a small set of representative publications created on the Western front, including the Wipers Times (British army), Bellica, Le Bochofage and Le Poilu du 6-9 (French army) and Antwerpen en Omheining, Ik ben Roeland and Saint-Trond Poilufié (Belgian army). First, it explores the production context of Entente magazines. That little presses were established against the odds of warfare fascinated the contemporary public: the French avant-garde poet Guillaume Apollinaire, for instance, contributed a short anecdotal essay entitled “L’Histoire d’une gazette du front” to the Mercure de France in January 1917. The essay then goes on to profile the editors, readers and contributors involved, and shows how a comparative approach can complement what we already know of the ostensibly limited distribution and scope of the trench press. Finally, it asks how trench journals fit into the framework of periodical studies, arguing for their textual affinity with school magazines. The trench press has exclusively been read and studied by historians, who consider it a phenomenon distinctive of the cultural history of the First World War. The benefit of situating these magazines firmly within contemporary print culture is that it nuances that notion of exceptionality. It also provides a space for addressing some of the confusions in definition and categorisation that underlie much historical analysis.



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