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0101Words For Battle201403081: Words for Battle. Francine Stock begins her exploration of the culture of the Great War in 1914 with the mobilization of the word. For more than 40 years the next war to come had been a staple of fiction. England had been invaded, bombed and conquered before a shot had ever been fired in anger and now the war was upon us. What unfolded in the first weeks in the towns of villages of Belgium turned the war into a cultural struggle for survival and intellectuals and authors were soon seen as crucial to the war effort. From Arnold Bennett to Israel Zangwill, the literary giants of Edwardian England went to war.
Producer Mark Burman.
0102Arf A Mo, Kaiser: Popular Culture On All Fronts20140315While high culture wrestled with the clash of German Kultur and the civilisation of the west, popular culture had no such concern for nuance in the early months of war. In this programme Francine Stock explores the way the music industry, and by 1914 it was a thriving performing and publishing industry in Britain, responded to war. Recruitment songs, patriotic sheet music and poems by the thousand were everywhere. But it was short lived. Once the zeal for righteous war was replaced with the mundane business of fighting, the music makers returned to the escapism their audiences sought.
In France the authorities took complete control of popular culture from the outset and with immediate conscription there was no need for recruitment song. Instead they turned to an established supply of heroic French song driven by the smart of defeat in 1871 at the hands of the Prussians.
In Germany the 'spirit of September' echoed through the Biergarten in the form of the Prussian, now German, anthem, 'Heil! dir im Siegerkranz' (to the tune of our own national anthem) as well as 'Wacht am Rhein'. But as the initial war fever settled Germans turned to Operetta for their entertainment with the British Foreign Secretary Grey and the French Prime minister Poincare the butt of jokes in pieces like 'Immer Feste Druff' by Walter Kollo.
And finally, Imperial Russia saw a flurry of vivid Posters (Lubok) and increasingly postcards extolling the virtues of the Cossack Warrior, while popular singers like Nadezhda Plevitskaia sang emotive songs of pride in the Tsar and Russia in the folk style that spoke to the heart of both her city and rural audiences. But it was an image of an injured soldier by Leonid Pasternak, father of Boris, which captured the popular imagination from the outset. Hated by the Tsar it first appeared in 1914, long before it became a powerful image for the Bolshevik uprisings later in the war.
0103 LASTKandinsky, Khaki And Kisses20140322At the beginning of the twentieth century, young artists in so many countries were finding their own revolutionary way forward. France had the cubism movement, in Germany the expressionists were in vogue, in Britain the vorticists were finding a voice. It was an exciting time for painters and sculptors. The outbreak of World War 1 fractured the international artistic community with many of the artists enlisting to fight.
In the third programme of the series, Francine Stock explores what was happening in the international artistic community in the run up to World War 1, and how the commencement of hostilities affected artists either side of the conflict. In some cases, it led painters to create some of their most powerful and arresting work.
Francine also hears how the publishing world responded to the outbreak of war. The magazine industry was quick to turn copy around and fashion tips included how to dress appropriately to raise morale.
The book industry, whilst threatened with a lack of staff and supplies, filled the need for entertaining popular fiction. There was a fine trade in sending books to the front, and back home, women's popular fiction was awash with khaki and kisses tales of women falling in love with soldiers. As the first fighting men returned invalided and disabled, there's also a rise in the 'heroic veteran' tale where a missing limb or scarred face is no barrier to virility and love.
Producer: Sarah Taylor
0201Glimpses Of A Modern World20150418Six months into the Great War and the world is beginning to change and the aftershock is rippling through the cultural establishment.
New technologies like the telephone and the wireless telegram are being used for the very first time. German zeppelins loom over Britain. Poisonous gas is leaked onto the battlefield at Ypres.
On the cultural front we see these startling innovations reflected back in the rise of modernist literature, such as The 39 Steps by John Buchan, and art. C.R.W. Nevinson's 'La Mitrailleuse' or 'The Machine Gun' marked a definitive break from the Victorian interpretation of war as one of 'valour' and 'sacrifice', glorified in Rupert Brooke's poems published posthumously in 1915.
Cinema is the most popular form of entertainment with the demand to see international stars like Charlie Chaplin changing the inner workings of the film industry.
In the first of the second series on how the Great War changed art, words and society, Francine Stock returns to The Cultural Front looking for glimpses of a modern world.
With contributions from Genevieve Bell, Pat Mills, Samuel Hynes, Guillaume de Syon, Richard Slocombe, Stewart Kelly and Bryony Dixon.
Producer: Caitlin Smith.
0202A Cubist War20150425The First World War was the great military and political event of its time; but it was also an imaginative event, an occasion when writers and painters were pulled from their homelands to fight on the front line.
In 1915 we start to see how artists, like poet Guillaume Apollinaire and Rudyard Kipling, are responding to war, and explore an unlikely alliance of the avant-garde and the military.
World War One altered the ways in which men and women thought about the world, and about culture and its expressions.
During the bloody battle at Gallipoli, Australia's sense of identity started to take shape. But national bonds were also beginning to weaken as war shattered allegiances and fractured borders.
We look at the ways in which new perspectives entered the public consciousness as France and Britain drew on soldier from Empire and colony.
The poetry of Rabindranath Tagore was read by people around the globe. American ragtime has reached British shores with popular African-American musicians like Dan Kildare and Joe Jordan.
In episode 2 of The Cultural Front, Francine Stock explores a fragmented world through the prism of the art it created.
With contributions from James Taylor, Nicholas Rankin, Susan Harrow, Santanu Das, Peter Stanley and Christian Liebl.
Producer: Caitlin Smith.
0203War On The Mind20150502In the last in the series covering 1915, Francine Stock looks at how the harrowing effects of World War I began to make themselves apparent in art, music and poetry. For the first time, the condition which would become known as 'shellshock' was becoming apparent, and the full psychological effect of trench warfare on soldiers began to take its toll.
We look at Sigmund Freud's Essay 'Reflections on War and Death' and look at how the newly diagnosed mental conditions were being addressed. Poetry, music and art begin to reveal the underlying traumas of this sustained conflict. Propaganda and patriotism did not always win the day, as we find in the German Expressionist paintings revealing the true nightmare of the trenches.
In music, we find patriotism still a driving force. British concert parties were travelling to the front to help encourage the troops, headed by the remarkable actress, impresario and suffragette Lena Ashwell. The French composer Debussy was deeply affected by the war, yet managed to make 1915 his most creative year.
In poetry, Robert Frost had written 'The Road Not Taken' after taking country walks with an English friend, Edward Thomas. Frost posted a copy of the poem to Thomas as a way of chiding him about indecision, but his friend was not amused. Within a short space of time he decided to enlist and go to war.
By the time 1915 drew to a close, any hope of a quick end to the war had faded, and the cultural front revealed a new fragility in the face of the such a bleak outlook.
With contributions from Dr David Code, University of Glasgow, Dr Anna Farthing, Professor Edgar Jones of King's College London, John Forrester, Dr Dorothy Price, University of Bristol, and poet Matthew Hollis.
Producer Mark Rickards.

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  • Documentaries / History / Factual