"Dispatches from Europe" Blog Contest

Did you travel to the European Union this summer? Submit a post to be featured on our Across the Pond blog and win prizes!

Videos of Previous Lectures

Missed an EUC-hosted lecture? Our blog's video tag has archived previous EUC-sponsored lectures.

EUCE's 2014 Outstanding Outreach Activity Award Winner

The University of Pittsburgh's "Conversations on Europe" is this year's winner for the European Center of Excellence's 2014 Outstanding Outreach Activity Award

The EU's Big Bang and Beyond: A Decade After European Enlargement

The European Union Center hosted a roundtable discussion featuring Consuls General from Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania on February 26, 2014.

School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics Spring 2014 Newsletter

SLCL's Spring 2014 Newsletter highlights many EUC-sponsored events and accomplishments of EUC-affiliated staff

Perspectives on Ukraine

To learn more about the recent unrest in the Ukraine, visit the "Ukraine" tag for blog posts and recaps of events that took place during the 2013-14 academic year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Welcome Message from the EU Center, August 2014

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As classes get under way this week to start the academic year, the European Union Center welcomes
new and returning faculty, staff, and students to the University of Illinois campus.

We are very pleased to share the good news that the EUC succeeded in renewing, through a highly competitive grant process, its designation as one of ten EU Centers of Excellence in the United States. The one-year grant of €95,000 administered to the EUC by the EU Delegation to the US in Washington, DC will enable a host of new interdisciplinary initiatives in EU studies research, course development, and public engagement. You can read more on our blog about the new EU Center of Excellence grant and the participating faculty and activities that it will support.

Over the summer, the EUC also submitted a comprehensive proposal to the US Department of Education Title VI program, as we seek to renew our designation as a National Resource Center. We anticipate hearing results of the competition in September. If funded, the grant could bring in up to $2.5 million over the next four years to support additional research, teaching, and outreach projects as well as Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students.

As usual the EUC will use some of the funding from our EUCE and Title VI grants to invite new competitive proposals from UI faculty and students, as well as off-campus scholars and educators. The EUC has just released a Call for Grant Applications for research, conference travel, and other activities focused on expansion of knowledge and engagement with the EU. Deadlines for the first sets of competitions are coming up in September. We encourage you to check out the details and get your applications started. 

Even as the EUC continues its efforts to renew and maintain its traditional flows of grant funds and to distribute these resources to partnering units and affiliates, we are always seeking to grow our financial base in ways that will support the UI and EUC missions and the interests of our faculty and students. To that end, we welcome inquiries about possible collaboration on new grant opportunities and can provide various types of support for applications to sponsors outside the university. We welcome your ideas and interest in such cooperation, and invite you to contact us at EUC to discuss opportunities you may wish to pursue.

Together with our highly energetic faculty, the EUC staff has been busy planning an exciting array of lectures, conferences, movies, and more for the academic year. The Center will be hosting lectures on Fridays at noon. Marquee talks like the EUCE Directors Lecture Series, Larry Neal Prize for EU Scholarship lecture, and Scholars-in-Residence speaker series are planned for this fall. We welcome suggestions—and self-nominations—for speakers to deliver Friday noon lectures, so please let us know your ideas. The Center’s programming this year will also feature special interactions with the European diplomatic corps through EU Day and similar events, and our annual Regional Faculty Working Conference in EU Studies in Chicago in January. Look for updates in forthcoming e-Weekly issues and on the EU Center web site, and make your plans to participate.

A standing goal of the EU Center is to foster cooperation with institutions in Europe and with scholars that share interests in EU studies, and one of the ways we do that is by inviting applications to our Scholars-in-Residence program. We are excited to announce the following visiting scholars to EUC, who will be coming at various stages during the academic year: Bart Rokicki (University of Warsaw); Patricia Minacori (Université Paris Diderot); Renata Dombrovski (University of Rijeka, Croatia); and Michelle Frasher (Fulbright-Schuman Scholar). We will share additional information about each of these distinguished scholars and post profiles of their background and interests on our web site soon. Please join us in welcoming them to the UI and Urbana-Champaign. We will announce the next competition for EUC visiting scholars for 2015-16 residency in the spring, and as always we encourage inquiries and applications both from prospective visitors and their collaborators here at the UI.

Many of you already keep up with the Center and the latest EU news through our Facebook page, EUC Blog, and Twitter feed. Our e-weekly newsletter will continue to highlight selected contributions to these social media. We also invite you to join our LinkedIn group, which allows EUC affiliates to stay connected and keep up with each other’s professional developments, and to follow us on Pinterest

As we look ahead to the upcoming year, the Center will continue to serve as a hub for research, teaching, and public engagement on the EU and transatlantic relations. We plan to spend this year focusing on developing new curricular and academic programs, including prospects for new degree majors and minors in EU studies at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and enhancing the footprint of Illinois at European partner universities. A key goal is to cooperate with other units on campus that share our interests in expanding the range of opportunities for students interested in the EU, so we look forward to engaging in dialogue about ways to achieve those objectives. Please feel welcome to share your ideas with us about how we can best serve that mission. In the mean time, we wish all of the EU Center’s many friends a productive and stimulating year to come!

- Anna Stenport, Director
- Matt Rosenstein, Senior Associate Director
- Sebnem Ozkan, Outreach Coordinator



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Post-War Kosovo and the International Community

This post was originally published on Diplomatist Online in July 2014.

Even though it is undeniable that in its current state, Kosovo continues to require the presence of the international community, robust international presence in public administration and reform must be scaled back to allow strengthening of local ownership of institutions, maintains Christopher Jackson
Kosovska Mitrovica Bridge
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It has been 15 years since a NATO bombing campaign ended the decade of ethnic struggle in the
former autonomous Yugoslav province of Kosovo. The revocation of the participatory and educational rights of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority eventually digressed into a guerrilla conflict that became an outright civil war after a calamitous attempt by the Serbian Interior Ministry (MUP) and the Serbian Army (VJ) to capture Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader Adem Jashari, which resulted in the death of 63 ethnic Albanians. Under the authority of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199, US General Wesley Clark directed a campaign of airstrikes against MUP and VJ targets in both Kosovo and Serbia. Initially, the controversial air campaign provided cover for Slobodan Milošević’s government to escalate its own ethnic cleansing campaign underway in Kosovo. Sites of Albanian heritage were razed and Albanian families were forcibly displaced or executed. Hundreds of thousands sought refuge in neighbouring Albania or Macedonia. Eventually, General Clark’s campaign dislodged Milošević’s security forces and effectively ended Serbian dominion over the province of Kosovo.

In the wake of the Milošević regime’s ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population, it was determined that Kosovo could not return to the control of Serbia. The Serbian government in Belgrade had denied a population the right to self-determination and failed to guarantee its citizens’ basic human rights, including life and security. UN Security Council Resolution 1244, passed after the conclusion of the conflict in 1999, placed Kosovo under the authority of the United National Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). This unpopular administration, with the power to govern autonomously, would be the first actor in a prolonged period of international involvement.

The UNMIK administration ended with the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo in February 2008, not formally recognised by the United Nations, and was replaced by a two-year period of supervised independence. However, 15 years since the cessation of the war with Serbia and six years since the declaration of independence, Kosovo remains an international protectorate. The international community continues to act in a hands-on fashion with tangible impact in all areas of Kosovo’s public affairs, including economic development and social relations, but most prominently in government administration.

Towards a Sustainable, Multi-Ethnic Society

Strong international involvement in government administration is a double-edged sword. Kosovo is actively being guided in the direction of modernisation and Europeanisation with the end goal of accession to the European Union. This has included the writing of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo itself, which was drafted from the comprehensive proposal by UN Special Representative and former Finnish President, Marti Ahtisaari. The Ahtisaari Plan, as it is known, included the necessary provisions for Kosovo’s independence as a sustainable, multi-ethnic society. There is a disproportionately high representation of minorities in the Assembly of Kosovo. The ethnic Serbs are guaranteed a minimum 10 seats out of 120 (roughly 8% of seats for a population constituting less than 5% of the total), regulations in the representation of women, and the decentralisation of municipalities.

The decentralisation process was to be carried out in accordance with the Council of Europe Charter on Local Self-Government, and was overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Initially rejected by Serbian authorities in 2004, the decentralisation project, which included the creation of six Serb majority-municipalities, began in 2009. UNDP was responsible for the training of municipal authorities and creation of municipal-level administrations, including municipal cadastral offices. The success of this project is a product of the dialogue between officials in Belgrade and Prishtina, which has been stably facilitated by the European Union. Currently in a stage of political dialogue, it has already yielded results. As per an agreement reached on April 19, 2013, Serbian MUP (Interior Ministry)-trained officers were incorporated into the Kosovo Police in Northern Kosovo. Better trained and better trusted by Northern Kosovo Serbs, this EU-facilitated agreement has tangibly benefited the rule of law. And prior to the political dialogue currently being facilitated, which commenced in October 2012, the EU had facilitated a year of technical dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. This resulted in seven conclusions in the process of implementation on civil registry, freedom of movement, customs stamps, cadastral records, university diplomas, regional representation and cooperation and integrated border/boundary management.

The Flip Side of International Involvement

However beneficial all of this has been to the advancement of Kosovo as a country, the other side to the international community sword has stunted the internal development of Kosovo. Heavy-handed international involvement has prevented the local ownership of public institutions and allowed for the entrenchment of neo-patrimonial practices in public administration. As a result, trust is lacking in local domestic institutions, as change is a product of international prescription rather than democracy. This is nowhere more evident than in the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX KOSOVO). The EULEX structure is divided into two separate divisions – strengthening and executive – with the strengthening division devoted to increasing the capacity of local authorities, while the executive division handles rule of law functions including prosecution, judiciary, and policing. While the new EULEX mandate passed this year and valid through 2016, places more of a focus on the strengthening of local counterparts, EULEX still maintains a strictly executive presence in the Serb-dominated North and the divided city of Mitrovica. Here judiciaries and prosecutions are strictly international, despite the efforts of the Kosovo Judicial Institute to integrate Serb judges. EULEX still actively practices hard policing, while also maintaining two formed units – one for riot intervention and one for breaching.

While on one hand, the presence of EULEX (and OSCE advisors prior) has aided in the development of a well-regarded police force, and shielded rule of law organs from potential political interference, it has also decreased public trust in such organs through its prolonged presence. Upon deployment, EULEX pronounced its aims of pursuing high-level corruption and organised crime as well as neutrally approaching ethnic war crimes, goals for which the public had high hopes. The failure to produce results on such pronounced goals during its prolonged mandate has resulted in a plummeting of public opinion about the rule of law and a perception of EULEX and local organs coexisting in corruption and ineptitude.

Reception in Northern Kosovo is another story. Still a beacon of robust ethnic division, only recently did the Serb majority municipalities in the North abandon their parallel structures and accept participation in the decentralised Kosovo system – at Belgrade’s urging. Despite this, the Ibar River, running through the mining city of Mitrovica, remains a formal ethnic divide, with the city’s main bridge having been barricaded for years. Much of the Serbian population north of the Ibar continues to reject Prishtina’s reach. Disdain for EULEX limits its capabilities and necessitates pugnacious policing tactics, usually involving armoured vehicles and long-barrelled weapons, the practice of which compounds the disdain for its presence. Ultimately, its presence in Northern Kosovo is delaying the acceptance and local ownership of the rule of law, a delay that has fostered increased criminal activity, not necessarily along ethnic lines.

Delaying local ownership by prolonged international involvement is not a phenomenon strictly characteristic of the field of rule of law. It is evident in other sectors of public administration as well, including the privatisation of state-owned enterprises. The privatisation process, overseen by the EU since the UNMIK administration, has been slow and largely unsuccessful, and has become a rich source of corruption. More damaging, however, is the shielding and legitimacy the international community has provided for Kosovo’s political elites. The protection afforded them in the interest of stability, which includes the dialogue with Serbia, has allowed time for neo-patrimonial and corrupt practices to become entrenched in the government, especially in the field of public procurement. Despite abundant reports of corruption at the highest levels, cases are rarely pursued and rarely closed against high-ranking government officials.

The international community has furthermore been responsible for legitimising any possibly illegitimate political elites. The 2010 elections in Kosovo, the first since independence, are widely believed in Kosovo to have been fraudulent. Strongholds of support for the victorious Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) recorded voter turnouts as high as 95 percent, while concerns arose about inadequate polling facilities, security, and consistency of voter registration lists. Despite such irregularities and inadequate provisions in the constitution to deal with them, the international observers declared the election legitimate. Such statements as US Vice-President Joe Biden’s labelling PDK Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi as ‘Kosovo’s George Washington’, have further lent international legitimacy to Kosovo’s political elite. And this coupled with the common practice of political allegiance to former KLA commanders, and heroes in the public eye, such as Thaçi and other notable political elites Ramush Haradinaj and Fatmir Limaj has fostered a system of political impunity. Local authorities are deterred from pursuing cases against such elites due to the unconditional wartime allegiances, and cases brought by international authorities result in mass public outcry.

Impasse in Kosovo Assembly

The current inability of the Kosovo Assembly to form a government is a product of these practices. Multiple arrests of former KLA commander and Minister of Transport, Fatmir Limaj, at politically sensitive times since 2010 prompted his split with ruling PDK in February, the party in which he had served as the vice-chairman. Mr Limaj himself had stated the political nature of the cases brought against him and had the support of other officials including one parliamentarian from the self-determination movement Vetevendosje, who stated in an interview that Limaj was the victim of the ‘elimination of the Prime Minister’s political opponents’. Joining Mr Limaj was sitting chairman of the assembly Jakup Krasniqi, whose claims of tyrannical party dealings within PDK had driven him out. Together Limaj and Krasniqi formed the Initiative for Kosovo (or NISMA), taking with them six members of the assembly and roughly five percent of the popular vote, and bolting themselves to PDK’s opposition.

Without a PDK voting majority, the assembly was unable to agree on the issue of a national defence force, resulting in the call for a snap election in early June. Unable to form a coalition out of this election, PDK remains just a plurality, while its opposition, comprised of vastly differing parties remains unable to form a coalition of its own on conflicted ideological grounds. The Kosovo Assembly is at an impasse. Consequently, the current dysfunction in the Government of Kosovo highlights the inability of democracy to naturally exist in the political atmosphere that has been fostered. Years of uncouth dealings, shielded and legitimised by the international community, has resulted in the rift in the controlling party, while it was the neo-patrimonial, semi-tribal allegiances to ex-KLA commanders and their public impunity that magnified this rift.

It is undeniable that in its current state Kosovo continues to require the presence of the international community. Having never possessed a sufficient economy, it remains dependent upon its neighbours for imports, while it likewise remains dependent upon such Western European firms as Raiffeisen, BNP Paribas, and Sigal to form its financial sector. The presence of KFOR remains a necessity to deter any resurgence of ethnic violence such as the one it suppressed in 2004, and the more recent bout this year targeting the barricade in Mitrovica. Robust international presence in public administration and reform, however, must be scaled back to allow strengthening of local-ownership of institutions. The EU already has in place Instruments for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPAs), which aim to strengthen rule of law capacity through twinning – embedded training, consultation, and advising in local institutions. This model of international development must be allowed to expand broadly as EULEX is reduced over its next two-year mandate, and be allowed to expand into other fields including national governance and international relations. Deprived of the ability to function without international scaffolding propping it, Kosovo as a state and its government cannot be globally accepted as legitimate.

Christopher Jackson is a Graduate Assistant at the European Union Centre at the University of Illinois, USA.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

European Union Center at the University of Illinois Awarded Renewal of EU Center of Excellence Grant

Champaign, IL, August 22, 2014—A newly funded initiative at the University of Illinois will examine the potential effects of a transatlantic free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the European Union and United States, take Illinois students to the Arctic circle to learn about the impacts of climate change, and foster research collaborations on comparative studies of race and education in Europe and the U.S. These are just a few of the innovative projects that will be made possible through a new grant to UI.

The Delegation of the European Union to the United States has awarded the University of Illinois’ European Union Center (http://www.euc.illinois.edu) a renewal of the prestigious EU Center of Excellence research and teaching grant for academic year 2014-2015. Led by Drs. Anna Stenport, Matt Rosenstein and Sebnem Ozkan, the EU Center (EUC) coordinates an interdisciplinary network of University of Illinois faculty and research centers to expand research, outreach and course development related to EU Studies across the Illinois campus, with regional and global partners, and through a comprehensive digital media presence.

The Delegation of the European Union to the United States periodically holds an open competition in which universities compete for a financial award intended to enhance European Union studies. Centers must demonstrate high quality teaching, research, and regional outreach programs on EU and EU-U.S. topics, and propose novel and ambitious enhancements to existing programs. The EUC has held the Center of Excellence designation since 2011.

In 2014-2015, the EU Center at UI will use the 95,000 euro (approximately $130,000) grant to build on its already substantial profile by developing new research and teaching initiatives in three thematic areas seeking to address global challenges by drawing on world-renowned Illinois expertise. “EU Responses to Environmental Challenges,” led by professors Jody Endres (Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences), Allison Anders (Geology), Mark Safstrom (Scandinavian Studies and Germanic Languages and Literatures) and Sara Bartumeus (Architecture), approaches environmental policy challenges from a variety of perspectives. “Adapting to Change in the EU and in EU-US Relations: Integration, Culture, and Identities,” led by professors Helaine Silverman (Anthropology), Adrienne Dixson (Education Policy, Organization and Leadership), George Gasyna (Slavic Languages and Literatures), and Ben Lough (Social Work), seeks to understand educational, humanitarian, and cultural issues of the EU. Finally, “Transatlantic and EU Politics, Policy, and Security,” led by professors David Bullock (Agricultural and Consumer Economics), Barry Pittendrigh (Entomology), Kostas Kourtikakis (Political Science), Stefanos Katsikas (Linguistics and Modern Greek Studies), Joseph Clougherty (Business), and Verity Winship (Law), explores the nuances of politics, policy and the agricultural trade and business environments within the context of the evolving EU. These projects advance EU and transatlantic studies in signature Illinois ways: interdisciplinarily, innovatively, and inclusively. The total project cost is 221,957 euros (approximately $300,000) and will be further supported by an institutional match from UI.

To maximize the impact of the proposed research, teaching, and outreach endeavors, the EUC and partnering faculty will organize four-speaker series addressing topics related to the three thematic areas. In addition, the EUC will organize five signature outreach events, including its marquee event EU Day, a summer study tour to Brussels, the Transatlantic Educators Dialogue for K-12 teachers in the US and EU, and the Euro Challenge competition for high school students. The EUC will issue competitive campus-wide calls for research and travel grants for both students and faculty, complementing other supported research projects by visiting Scholars-in-Residence from Europe and Regional EU Scholars Sara Hall and Petia Kostadinova from UI Chicago, Joyce Mushaben from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and James Van der Laan at Illinois State University. Curricular projects will see to the development of five new courses, an EU studies undergraduate minor, a combined BA/MA program in an EU language with EU studies, and, at Illinois State University, an undergraduate degree in European Studies.


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Illinois Campus Commemorates the Centenary of WWI with Events for the Entire Community

This blog was originally posted by the University of Illinois News Bureau on August 19, 2014.

The EUC is a co-sponsor of the initiative, which features participation by numerous faculty and student affiliates of the center.


Michael Rothberg (left) and Marcus Keller, professors and department heads in English and French, respectively, are co-coordinators of “The Great War,” a cross-campus initiative at the University of Illinois commemorating the centenary of the start of World War I.
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start The Great War: Experiences, Representations, Effects” is designed for Illinois students and the local community to gain a new understanding about the first industrialized conflict carried out on a global scale.
of World War I with a cross-campus initiative that includes theater productions, a film series, concerts, lectures, symposiums, an art exhibition and a general education course. “

A complete listing of events can be found at www.thegreatwar.illinois.edu.

Michael Rothberg, a professor and the head of the English department and co-coordinator of the initiative, said organizers made a conscious decision to avoid creating a schedule of conferences led by academic historians. “It’s not a project organized by people who are specialists or experts in World War I history, but precisely by people who aren’t – because we thought it would be important for everybody to think about the legacies of the war,” he said.

Rothberg, who also is the founding director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies Initiative at Illinois, admits that he knows less about World War I than he knows about World War II, which has overshadowed a conflict that caused some 16 million deaths.

“World War I is really interesting because it was an enormous rupture in the 20th century. Millions of people died, and it changed the face of geopolitics on a worldwide scale, and yet it also is not remembered as strongly as you might expect,” Rothberg said. Its memory seems less vivid in America than in Europe, he said, where battlefields, trenches, cemeteries and monuments provide residents daily reminders of the turmoil.

Marcus Keller, co-coordinator of the initiative and a professor and the department head of French, said that France, in particular, still regards World War I as the greatest trauma of the 20th century because of the loss of nearly 2 million French soldiers, with another 5 million wounded. “Contrary to World War II, the war of 1914-18 affected just about every family in France through the loss of a loved one,” Keller said.

He said The Great War initiative has broadened his understanding of the war’s global impact – the colonial powers’ recruitment of soldiers from Africa and India, the Australians compelled to fight the Ottoman Empire, the “social reshuffling” caused by the feminization of the workforce. “World War I really thrust the world into the 20th century, and a wholly new era, within the matter of four years,” Keller said.

An opening reception for the initiative will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 4 (Thursday) at Krannert Art Museum, where an exhibition of World War I posters and photographs is on display. 

At the core of The Great War initiative is a history course ­– HIST 258: World War I and the Making of the Global 20th Century – that will satisfy general education requirements for history, Western comparative culture or global studies. This one-time course will be co-led by history professors Tamara Chaplin and Peter Fritzsche, who are specialists, respectively, in the histories of France and Germany, two of the central players in the conflict.

The class also will take advantage of other aspects of the campus initiative, such as the exhibition of war propaganda posters at Krannert Art Museum, and other specialists from history and other campus units will lead about a third of the lectures. The course will deal with the war’s politics and strategies, but also with art, race, empire, the home front, the role of women, shell shock, the Russian revolution, the Armenian genocide, and the soldiers’ experiences told through fiction and poetry, among other topics. 

“What’s nice is this course simulates what a conference does, bringing together people from different disciplines, but now for the benefit of an undergraduate audience,” Fritzsche said.

“One of the things we’re really interested in communicating to our students,” Chaplin said, “is that so many things that they take for granted in the world around them have been shaped by that war because it was such a massive, cataclysmic, global experience.”

“All Quiet on the Western Front,” the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque, who fought in World War I, is among the required readings for the course. Instead of recounting battle heroics, Remarque told the story of war from the point of view of soldiers living in the trenches ­– boredom, chaos, terror, shell shock – similar to the realistic perspective that dominated the Vietnam War.
  
Oh, What a Lovely War” – a musical that takes a look at World War I through the prism of Vietnam-era sensibilities – will be presented by the University of Illinois department of theatre for two weeks beginning Nov. 6 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Full of catchy tunes, the play premiered at Theatre Royal in London in the early 1960s. It was directed by Joan Littlewood, who assigned her actors books to research various aspects of World War I. One reviewer described the resulting musical as imbued with “the contrast between beguiling form and radical content.”

Music composed against the backdrop of World War I also will be on the program when the St. Louis Symphony performs Sept. 14 (Sunday) at 7:30 p.m. at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Danish composer Carl Nielsen decided in 1914 to compose a work that would express the “spirit of life” and “the elemental will to live.” Two years later, he titled his Symphony No. 4 “The Inextinguishable.”

One poignant peaceful night during the war will be commemorated with a concert Dec. 2 (Tuesday) at Krannert Center, when the nine-man a cappella group Cantus and a trio of actors perform “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914.” The concert will include patriotic tunes, trench songs and holiday carols, with a narrative woven from letters and war documents to honor the Christmas Eve when Allied and German soldiers laid down their guns to gather their dead, exchange gifts, share a meal and sing.

A series of World War I-themed films will begin Sept. 26 (Friday) with “La Grande Illusion,” a 1937 Jean Renoir film about a small group of French POWs. It was the one film that legendary director Orson Wells named when TV talk show host Dick Cavett asked what two films he would take with him “on the ark” (the other was “something else”). John Ford’s 1952 Technicolor movie “What Price Glory,” starring James Cagney, will be shown Oct. 9 (Thursday); the satirical German film “Der Brave Soldat Schwejk” (The Good Soldier Schweik) will be shown on Nov. 13 (Thursday). Peter Weir’s 1981 film “Gallipoli” follows two Australian sprinters (Mel Gibson and Mark Lee) from their idealistic enlistment to the doomed eight-month Gallipoli campaign. It will be shown Nov. 20 (Thursday). The series ends Dec. 4 with “Joyeux Noel,” a 2005 French film about the Christmas Eve truce of 1914. Though the gore of war is depicted in the movie, film critic Roger Ebert noted that the plot centered on “a respite from carnage” and that the sentimentality “is muted by the thought that this moment of peace actually did take place, among men who were punished for it and who mostly died soon enough afterward.”

“La Grande Illusion” will be shown at the Armory Building; the other films will be shown in the Krannert Art Museum auditorium. All films begin at 7 p.m. The series was curated by Lilya Kaganovsky, a professor of Slavic languages and literature and director of the Program in Comparative and World Literature at Illinois.

The Great War initiative offers several scholarly opportunities. Jeffrey Sammons, a history professor at New York University and co-author of “Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality,” will talk about the effect of the war on the rivalry between black military units formed in Chicago and New York at 4 p.m. on Oct. 22 (Wednesday) at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Taner Akçam, a professor of history at Clark University and one of the first Turkish academics to examine the Armenian genocide, will speak on “Denying the Armenian Genocide: A Turkish National Security Concept” on Nov. 3 (Monday) at the Illini Union. Akçam is the author of “A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility” and “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire.” 

Timothy Snyder, the Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University and the author of the critically acclaimed book “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin,” will deliver a MillerComm lecture hosted by the Center for Advanced Study at 3 p.m. Nov. 10 (Monday) at Spurlock Museum.

A complete list of lectures can be found online.

Editor's note: For more information, contact Michael Rothberg at 217-333-2581; email mpr@illinois.edu; or Marcus Keller at 217-265-6476; email mkeller@illinois.edu
To add events to the The Great War calendar, email greatwaratillinois@gmail.com.

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