University of Illinois at Chicago
04-03_HVande20_VERDUN.tiff (22.82 MB)

Verdun Battlefield

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posted on 2023-07-01, 01:15 authored by Haylie Van Den Berghe

My graduate research focuses on responses to World War I, examining the esthetics in French literature, art, and film, and analyzing different themes such as nationalism, disillusionment, capitalism, trauma of soldiers, and effects on various social classes in French society. In June of 2022, I spent a week visiting various WWI battle sites and museums in France to supplement my research. The image I’m submitting depicts the battle site of Fort Douaumont in Verdun, France, which was the longest battle and one of the bloodiest of WWI. I am seen emerging from a military bunker, which is completely defaced by the countless shell craters, creating an eerie moonscape of what was once flat forested ground. To me, this image represents the reactions to and the aftermath of WWI—this war completely changed the world, creating a stark opening to the 20th century, leaving behind the idyllic past of the 19th century.


This exhibit competition is organized by the University of Illinois Chicago Graduate College and the University Library