Professor Marline Otte, Research Talk: “Image Worlds of the Eastern Front (1914-18): Trauma, Art and Occupation.”

When and Where

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Room 2098
Sidney Smith Hall
100 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3


Professor Otte is the Inaugural Helen E. Graham Visiting Fellow 2019 and a graduate (1999) of our History PhD program. This talk will focus on the photographic collection of one soldier who was also an architect and urban planner—Helmuth Grisebach, who became the principal architect of the recovery plan for the Polish city of Kalisz/Kalisch after its near-destruction by the German Army in August 1914. The devastation of Kalisz/Kalisch is widely understood to constitute the first war crime of the 20th century. The talk aims to shed light on how we can interpret the motivation of a (soldier) photographer on the Eastern front to choose motives and images that suggest continuity instead of rupture, stillness over movement, and the eternal cycle of the seasons instead of the explosive forces of modern warfare. How, in short, can we and should we understand war images in which the war remains invisible? Are they expressions of denial, cynicism, naivety, or colonial phantasies? Or are they imaginings of empathy, of nostalgia for bygone times, or wishful thinking on the part of their creator?

Contact Information


100 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3