Help wanted
- Disabled Students Program seeks a
note taker for English 122NW
- $25/unit
- 2120 SRB for application
Lecture today
(1) Damage & regeneration
(2) Class
(3) Ernst Friedrich & war photography
Damage & Regeneration
- Barker working with a particular moment in the
history of psychology when nerves and sensory
receptors were being studied. Early 20C clinical
research on neurological responses to stimuli.
- Madness vs. “normal” (Michel Foucault)
- Shell shock, neuresthenia, war neurosis: expands
the zone of the treatable. No longer just
- Shell shock: Charles Myers (friend of Rivers)
Damage & Regeneration, II
• 80,000 cases of shell shock treated (recorded as
treated) during the war vs. 102,000 officially
reported casualties in month of September 1917 (p.
- Insistence on the temporary quality of damage.
Need to make the soldiers’ bodies useful again.
- Callan as fighting unit being repaired (p. 238)
- “War material” (Friedrich)
Damage & regeneration, III
- Protopathic: generalized, non-locatable (primitive)
- Epicritic: specific (cerebral)
- War neurosis: single event or gradual erosion?
- “You’re thinking of breakdown as a reaction to a
single traumatic event, but it’s not like that. It’s more
a matter of…erosion. Weeks and months of stress in
a situation where you can’t get away from it.” (105)
- “This reinforced Rivers’s view that it was prolonged
strain, immobility and helplessness that did the
damage, and not the sudden shocks or bizarre horrors
that the patients themselves were inclined to point to
as the explanation for their condition.” (222)
Traumatic haunting
- Specters: SS sees ghosts in the streets of London
and dead men (Orme) visit his room
- Tapping at the window (142-3)
- “Prior moved among them like a ghost” (127)
- SS, “Survivors”: “They’ll soon forget their haunted
The Hydra (December 1917)
Traumatic haunting
- Specters: SS sees ghosts in the streets of London
and dead men (Orme) visit his room
- Tapping at the window (142-3)
- “Prior moved among them like a ghost” (127)
- SS, “Survivors”: “They’ll soon forget their haunted
- Traumatic event as haunting
- Traumatic past that cannot be contained by
memory but leaks into the present
- Freud on war and the uncanny
Damage & regeneration, IV
- Note Rivers’ (historical and fictional) resistance to
- Trauma for Rivers not about the singular and
accessible event
- Instead he analyses patients’ suppression of their
memories of war experience (173).
- Recovery does not mean “cure.”
- Metaphor of regeneration: recovery as
deterioration & decay, a butterfly’s shedding of
the chrysalis (184).
Class & decorum, I
- Class distinctions at the front (67)
- Institutional prestige: Cambridge (135)
- Masculinity, “bad form,” and “gentlemanly
behaviour” (199)
- Protocols of military dress (98)
- “emotional repression as the essence of
manliness” (48)
- Male hysteria (paralysis, aphasia, nightmares)
Class & decorum, II
- Codes of conduct (gentlemanly behavior) at odds
with brute realities of trench warfare and total war
- Social rituals: tea service
- Patriotism & heroic action: Tennyson, “Charge of
the Light Brigade” (1855), “Stormed at with shot
and shell,/ Boldly they rode and well” (66)
- “Pride of the British army” (52).
- Fantasy of “one big cavalry charge” (66)
- Relation of fox-hunting and horsemanship to war
fought with poison gas and tanks?
Class & decorum, III
- Rivers on the class-based response to trauma &
“elaborate” quality of officers’ dreams
- Notion that the ordinary soldier regresses to lower level
in the evolutionary hierarchy whereby selfish survival
instincts dominate
- Officers function at a higher point on the evolutionary
scale; still battling fear but duty demands sacrifice for
the collective.
- Fictional character Prior as foil to historically and
culturally entrenched notions of social hierarchies
(e.g. 96-97)
Looking at the result…
- Casualty lists: “it doesn’t even put them off
their sausages!” (69); statistical abstraction
- Sarah: “If the country demanded that price,
then it should bloody well be prepared to look
at the result” (160).
* Communicability or incommunicability
of experience & events of war
- “there were no words, a place of desolation so
complete no imagination could have invented it”
- “Language ran out on you, in the end, the names
were left to say it all. Mons, Loos, Ypres, the
Somme, Arras.” (90)
Walter Benjamin, “The Storyteller” (1936)
“Was it not noticeable at the end of the
war that men returned from the
battlefield grown silent – not richer,
but poorer in communicable
* World War I so massive &
decentralized as to resist coherent
& comprehensive representation
Wilfred Owen, letter to his mother (1917)
“a very strange look….an incomprehensible
look, which a man will never see in
England….It was not despair or terror, for it
was a blindfold look, without expression,
like a dead rabbit’s. It will never be painted,
and no actor will ever seize it. And to
describe it, I think I must go back and be
with them.”
- Censorship: ban on war photography
- Firing squad penalty for taking pictures at the
- Some illicit photographs: Wilfred Owen carried
photos of war dead in his pockets
- Artists allowed at front in 1916 but not allowed
to include dead men in their works
- Recreations; issues of authenticity
- Importance of WWI poetry as representational
- US correspondents not allowed to visit British &
French front lines
- No Allied reporters in Germany when stations, Uboat bases, and factories were bombed
- No German journalists covering the Allied side of
the trenches
- “no more discreditable period in the history of
journalism than four years of the Great War”
(British historian)
- ‘CNN effect’: war now a media event fought on
- Nonetheless, we have controlled access
- Legacy of Vietnam: public opinion linked to
circulation of images
- Reactions to massacres and napalm bombings
prompt questions:
- Did images shift public opinion or reflect
that shift? (Vietnam, Somalia)
- What is the cultural function of war
photography (photojournalism)?
- Can a photograph of war be anti-war?
Photography & representational authenticity
- Post WWI: Photography privileged
medium for documentary representation
- Presupposition: photos are scientific
- Presupposition: photos are reflection of
prior truth, not creation of that truth
- Are photographs transparent or ideological
reflection of the real? (Friedrich, “the
inexorable, incorruptible photographic
Ernst Friedrich, War Against War
- 1924: ten-year anniversary
Anti-war museum, Berlin (1925)
Ernst Friedrich, War Against War
- 1924: ten-year anniversary
- Photographs censored during the war by the
German government
- Personal collection & exhibition of pictures; then
- Instant sensation and “bestseller”
- Censorship & raiding of his shop
- Nationalist opposition to antimilitarist use of war
imagery; Feb 1925, refounding of Nazi party;
Friedrich declared as non-citizen
War Against War, II
- Audience: written in English, French, German;
fourth language varies among Dutch, Norwegian,
- Translated into forty languages
- Exclamation points & boldface
- Direct address to the reader
- Captions
- Response to war propaganda, “a picture of War,
objectively true and faithful to nature”
War Against War, III
- Thematic streams:
Enthusiastic volunteers
Violent death
Destruction of the landscape
Soldiers’ graves
- Language of war reports (“no particular
occurrences at the front”)
- “Human beings in all lands” (corpses all
- Intent: shock the public out of moral complacency
War Against War, IV
- Mode: bitter irony
- Images of atrocity juxtaposed with
propaganda, official rhetoric (“field of honor”;
“to die like a hero”)
- Owen: “the old Lie”
- Abstractions like “honor,” “heroism,” and
“how magnificent is the soldier’s life”
undercut by materiality of corpses
- Reality of death: “heroic horses”
War Against War, V
- Monarchy as particular object of scorn
- Aristocracy but also class hierarchies
- Generals vs. soldiers
- Single, ceremonial funeral parade vs. mass
graves of the proletariat
- Officers discussing strategy over coffee with
soldiers’ bodies as game pieces
- “At the front: the Crown Prince is not present.”
- Call for full responsibility; the king who declares
war must fight the war
War Against War, VI
- Treatise against the idea and actual fact of War
- “mass murder”
- “butchery”; “mass butchery”
- War as “common monstrous enemy”
- “this most diabolical, this meanest and lowest of
all crimes of the State”
- Plato: “all wars arise for the possession of wealth”
- Wars fought for interests of International Capital
- The “eternal war,” the exploited against the
- Militarism reduced to economic motives
War Against War, VII
- Question: Why did Europe stand for WWI
and what will it do to prevent future wars?
- After Friedrich: war propaganda becomes
increasingly visual
Why look at the visual record?
“Let the atrocious images haunt us.
Even if they are only tokens and cannot
possibly encompass all the reality of a
people’s agony, they still perform an
immensely positive function. The
image says: keep these events in your
- Susan Sontag
“a people’s agony” (Sontag)
a people’s triumph (national glory; the
“pride of the British army”)
- first as prelude to second
- vengeance narratives, e.g. Serbs (Joe

Freud, “Psycho-analysis and the War Neuroses” (1919)