Research Seminar: Professor Perry Anderson

Professor Perry Anderson presents a lecture entitled 'Disputing Disaster: How 'maverick' and 'limelight' historians explained the outbreak of war in 1914'

This seminar is part of the War Studies series in the School of History.

The First World War continues to be the conflict that has produced what is probably still the largest scholarly literature, and certainly longest-running controversy (lasting for over a century) in history. Compared with the volume of what’s been written about the war, however, considerations of the historiography of it have been relatively few.

This presentation will discuss the work of six leading historians who wrote about its causes - all of them citizens of states that fought in the war, and all of them in different ways original scholars.

Three of them achieved fame at home or abroad: Pierre Renouvin from France, Luigi Albertini from Italy and Christopher Clark from Australia.

Three were by contrast mavericks – that is outliers, either regarded as trouble-makers challenging standard views of the conflict, or ignored as irrelevant to it: Fritz Fischer from Germany, Keith Wilson from Britain, and Paul Schroeder from America.

The political outlook or trajectory of each will be treated as integral to what they did or didn’t achieve.

About the speaker

Perry Anderson is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.


The order for mobilisation signed by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany on 01 August 1914, as reproduced in the Illustrated London News on 09 August 1924, under the heading ‘Ten Years Ago: A Document That Plunged Europe In Blood’. Image © IWM Q 42095, from the Imperial War Museum Collection (non-commercial license). Find out more about this image on the IWM website.