Summer school

Summer school – Supplying the War:
Production, Transportation, Consumption (1914-1920)
29 June – 4 July 2020

Summer school – Supplying the War:
Production, Transportation, Consumption (1914-1920)
29 June – 4 July 2020

The International Research Centre of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne, with its partners at the German Historical Institute Paris, the TU Berlin, the Université de Picardie Jules Vernes (Amiens) and the Université Clermont-Auvergne invites applications for its fourth summer school for graduate students working on the First World War.

From 29 June to 4 July 2020, we will bring together an international group of 20 to 30 young researchers working on the military, cultural, social, and economic history of the First World War. During the week spent together, they will have the opportunity to exchange amongst themselves, but also with a large number of internationally renowned researchers. Guided tours and excursions to the Paris region, the Argonne and the Hauts-de-France (Somme) are an integral part of the programme and enrich the experience of the participants.

Figure 1 : Usine Citroën, Paris, Tourneuse d’obus, 1915 ; La Contemporaine, VAL 364/049

Following the 2014, 2016, and 2018 editions of our summer school, which respectively focused on initiations into contemporary war experiences (, on the “face” of battle and the battlefield ( and on the environmental history of the Great War (, the 2020 edition will focus on questions relating to the “fuel” of the Great War.

In addition to devouring human lives, the Great War was also at the origin of a huge consumption of raw materials, foodstuffs and finished products, whether or not they were intended for combat. On the basis of this observation, the intention of the 2020 summer school is to question the logic, mechanisms and dynamics that make it possible to fuel the war, i.e. to try to understand the motivations and modalities of the functioning of armies at war through the products consumed, the populations involved, the structures invested and the consequences that result from them between 1914 and 1920. In this respect, three main areas stand out.

The first – production – covers all forms of structures and infrastructure placed at the service of nations in time of war. From the fields, through factories, but also mines, structures of technical expertise, specialist training schools or institutions such as trade unions or committees, the aim will be to highlight how entire sectors of society are reshaped by the war effort and to understand to what extent war has a major impact – in the short and medium term – on all sectors of production of the belligerent countries.

The second – transportation – refers to the almost total control of the means of communication between 1914 and 1918 by the wartime states. Of course, this means railways, whose requisition by the general staffs allows millions of soldiers to flow regularly to the various front-line areas. But other modes and means of transport are also used, involving networks, equipment, employees and animals, from road networks to radio waves. Here again, the consequences – positive or negative – are major and need to be explored. This angle will make it possible to address the way in which the different scales of the conflict are articulated, from the routing of products from the interior to the first trench lines, via maritime routes for imported or colonial products, a major global strategic issue.

From this perspective too, the last major subject, – consumption – aims to measure the degree of effectiveness of societies at war and their ability, or not, to meet the primary needs of their compatriots and armies, particularly with regard to food but also a very varied range of goods, of consumption habitual in civilian life or, on the contrary, specific to wartime. This raises the question, after their circulation, of the market for these very diverse goods produced and transported over very long distances or sometimes only a few kilometres. But there is also the question of consumption patterns, according to modalities that differ given the period, place, culture, and circumstance.

At the intersection of these three major axes, several issues need further exploration. First of all, the conditions of war and the need to fuel the war show the ability of societies to adapt to total war: rediscovery of techniques or products, reopening of structures or networks, response to an urgent request, in a climate of multiple tensions. In fact, here the concept of agentivity, applicable to individuals, structures and states, takes on its full meaning. Second, supplying the war means questioning the immersion of the ordinary in the exceptional and the intricacy of the extraordinary in everyday life. This is the case for soldiers and civilians, of course, but also for institutions or businesses, with repercussions on practices, but also representations in a context of antagonism between discourse and reality (patriotism-fatigue, sacrifice-individualism or scarcity-wasting, for example). Finally, the theme of permeability between the fronts and the home front is central here. It appears to be the driving force behind the links that structure nations at war, as the exchanges between the two spaces are numerous, varied and fundamental.

By apprehending it in a global and translocal way we can grasp all the factors that shape the contours of the conflict and its consequences in terms of production, transport or consumption between 1914 and 1920.

Figure 2: Affiche, United States Food Administration, Jeff Townsend, 1918 : University of North Texas Digital Library


Participants will benefit from guided tours of the battlefields and memorial sites in the Paris region, Argonne and the Hauts-de-France (Somme), with specialists and experts in wartime procurement. The locations chosen will make it possible to compare different belligerents and to understand these territories as spaces globalized by the conflict.

Conferences and debates with historians of the First World War, specialists in the fields of economic, social, and commercial history practices, techniques and rationales, will complement the workshop sessions led by the members of the organizing committee (Emmanuelle Cronier, Franziska Heimburger, Stéphane Le Bras) or specialist speakers. The selected students will also have the opportunity to present their own work by placing it in the perspective chosen by the summer school.


Advanced research masters and doctoral students can apply to the summer school. Research themes directly related to the school’s theme or showing how this research can be linked to it will be privileged, but all masters or doctoral students working on the First World War and its consequences may apply.

If selected, candidates undertake to be present for the entire week of the summer school, from 29 June to 4 July.

The working languages of the summer school will be French and English. However, in order to participate fully in the programme and in particular in the guided tours, at least a passive knowledge of French (the capacity to understand a native speaker giving a fairly technical talk) is required.

Candidates should be aware that some field trips, particularly in the forest, may take place off marked roads and in rough terrain which necessitates adequate equipment (clothing, shoes, backpack).

In order to allow us to exchange ideas effectively, we will send reading material with archival extracts and secondary literature to participants once the selection has been made.

We will cover accommodation (single or double room; shared sanitary facilities), transportation during the week of the summer school, entrance fees for the different sites and most meals. We strongly encourage applicants to try to secure partial or total funding for the travel costs from their home university and to provide us with any necessary details. We also hope, without any certainty, to be able to contribute to the travel costs of participants to/from Paris, in particular for those whose home institutions do not subsidise this type of expenditure

Applications (in English or French) consisting of a 1-page summary of the candidate’s field of research [or: “research interests”] and a 1-page academic CV must be received before midnight on 12 January 2020 online.

1- Create an account on the website, clicking on « Create account » in the left-hand menu.
2- Fill in the form, click on « register » and then activate the account when you receive the confirmation email.
3- Click on « Submissions » in the left-hand column and then « Submit a paper ».
4- Fill in the submission metadata. In the “Abstract” field, please tell us in a couple of paragraphs why you feel this summer school would be beneficial to you and what you could bring to it. When you reach the page for paper submission, please submit your project summary as “Paper” and your CV as “supplementary information”.

We will notify applicants whether their papers have been accepted by the end of January 2020.

Nicolas Beaupré (Université Clermont-Auvergne – Centre d’Histoire « Espaces et cultures »)

Emmanuelle Cronier (Université de Picardie Jules-Vernes – Centre d’histoire des sociétés, des sciences et des conflits)

Caroline Fontaine (Centre International de Recherche de l’Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne)

Franziska Heimburger (Sorbonne-Université – EA Histoire et Dynamique des Espaces Anglophones)

Stéphane Le Bras (Université Clermont-Auvergne – Centre d’Histoire « Espaces et cultures »)

Contact :  


Caroline Fontaine

Centre de recherche – Historial de la Grande Guerre – BP 20063 – 80201 PÉRONNE cedex – Twitter @cr_historial –
Tél. 03 22 83 54 13 – Fax 03 22 83 54 18

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