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“The Spirit of 1914”: A Redefinition and a Defense

Ringmar, Erik LU (2016) In First World War Phenomenon
Abstract
The received wisdom has long been that people in Europe reacted with great enthusiasm as war was approaching in August, 1914. However, scholars who have investigated the matter have found little evidence of enthusiasm. There was no unique “spirit of 1914,” and people in general were not happy about the prospect of war. This revisionist thesis is now the new orthodoxy and should as such be subject to scrutiny. In this article I focus on the notion of an “experience.” Experiences are felt and gone through, the argument will be, not rationalized after the fact. As such they will always leave only faint traces in the historical sources. It is very difficult to say what people in August 1914 actually felt. As a way around this problem I suggest... (More)
The received wisdom has long been that people in Europe reacted with great enthusiasm as war was approaching in August, 1914. However, scholars who have investigated the matter have found little evidence of enthusiasm. There was no unique “spirit of 1914,” and people in general were not happy about the prospect of war. This revisionist thesis is now the new orthodoxy and should as such be subject to scrutiny. In this article I focus on the notion of an “experience.” Experiences are felt and gone through, the argument will be, not rationalized after the fact. As such they will always leave only faint traces in the historical sources. It is very difficult to say what people in August 1914 actually felt. As a way around this problem I suggest we should focus on a study of public moods. It is in a public mood that felt experiences arise and public moods are in principle open to historical investigation. (Less)
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Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
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submitted
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keywords
First World War, historiography
in
First World War Phenomenon
editor
Dimitrova, Snezhana
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f2aa2637-412c-482a-96c0-1e15779d60e8 (old id 7869635)
date added to LUP
2015-09-18 14:11:24
date last changed
2016-08-31 15:47:20
@inbook{f2aa2637-412c-482a-96c0-1e15779d60e8,
  abstract     = {The received wisdom has long been that people in Europe reacted with great enthusiasm as war was approaching in August, 1914. However, scholars who have investigated the matter have found little evidence of enthusiasm. There was no unique “spirit of 1914,” and people in general were not happy about the prospect of war. This revisionist thesis is now the new orthodoxy and should as such be subject to scrutiny. In this article I focus on the notion of an “experience.” Experiences are felt and gone through, the argument will be, not rationalized after the fact. As such they will always leave only faint traces in the historical sources. It is very difficult to say what people in August 1914 actually felt. As a way around this problem I suggest we should focus on a study of public moods. It is in a public mood that felt experiences arise and public moods are in principle open to historical investigation.},
  author       = {Ringmar, Erik},
  editor       = {Dimitrova, Snezhana},
  keyword      = {First World War,historiography},
  language     = {eng},
  series       = {First World War Phenomenon},
  title        = {“The Spirit of 1914”: A Redefinition and a Defense},
  year         = {2016},
}