My research focuses on the comparative development of war cultures in Europe and the United States in the twentieth century. I am interested in how the violence associated with modern war is represented – through poetry, literature, photography, illustration and film – and with the ways in which various audiences access and interpret it.
I have published on the First World War poets Rupert Brooke and Alan Seeger, considering how media networks contribute to political discourses, as well as on the development of a canon of war literature. I am currently working on a book on popular patriotic poetry and literary celebrity, investigating how and why the idealised image of the poet-soldier took such a hold on the public imagination during the war, and what this means for how readers understand the conflict today.
I am increasingly interesting in how image and language interact to form immediate and, in some instances, persistent frameworks and / or collective narratives in to which war and its associated violence can be fitted. I am currently collaborating with Suzie Hanna (Professor of Animation Education) and colleagues at the University of Oxford and Sandhurst on a film – ‘Tripwire’ – articulating the links between war trauma (now known as ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’ (PTSD)), poetry and memory.
I am also interested in how commerce and advertising influence perceptions of war, and recently completed a chapter (based on a paper presented at the Institut Français de la Mode in December 2014) on the work of Gladys Peto, who contributed illustrations for a weekly column for ‘lonely soldiers’ to The Sketch from 1915 to 1919. I have also begun work on a project the uses social network theory to explore the complex relationships that formed between war poets and artists during the First World War.
I am involved in a number of projects that look to engage new audiences with the history of the war and the media. I am a contributor to the 1914-1918 Online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War project, and while finishing my DPhil at Oxford I worked as a researcher and cataloguer for the First World War Poetry and Great War Archive, and in 2009 co-organised the International Society for First World War Studies’ conference ‘Other Combatants, Other Fronts’ at the Imperial War Museum, serving as co-editor for the eponymous publication. In 2014 I also began working with colleagues at the English Association, publishing short articles on film adaptations of First World War literature and the poet and artist Isaac Rosenberg in their journal for teachers: The Use of English, and with King’s College, Cambridge to develop new ways for A-level and GSCE students to engage with their archives. In 2015 I co-chaired ‘Avant-gardes and war’ (with Professor Lynda Morris and Dr Krzysztof Fijalkowski) at the Association of Art Historians Annual Conference at the University of East Anglia.
– Dr Alisa Miller