Yale historian Jay M. Winter will take his audience through the window of World War I at the inaugural Distinguished Lecture Series at Weber State University next week.

The award-winning scholar and World War I specialist will present a unique view of this war during his presentation “The Transnational History of the First World War,” which will shed light on the war’s history from a cultural, societal and political point of view.

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Miss Germaine Van Valkenberg, niece of the mayor of Virton, Belgium, giving a bouquet and American flag to U.S. 2nd Division forces that arrived several days after the Armistice, Nov. 19, 1918. (Source: Branden Little, WSU history professor)

“It’s about changing ideas about the First World War and how this enormous earthquake is seen by people all over the world,” he said.

The lecture will examine two topics. The first is about how people from multi-national backgrounds and different generations look at the world through history, according to Winter.

Winter defines “transnational” as people who were born in one country, educated in another and then go on to teach in a different country.

“People who have this multi-national way of looking at the world write history differently than those who lived in one country,” he said.

The second topic he will talk about is the museum he helped design in France in 1986 and how it changed the representation of the First World War.

He said that studying World War I also gives us insight on the origins of the modern world.

“If you don’t know the First World War, you cannot understand what is going on out there today,” he said.

Winter is known as one of the world’s foremost historians on the First World War. Earning degrees from Columbia and Cambridge Universities, he is recognized for pioneering the cultural history of warfare.

He has also written, co-authored or edited at least 30 books on the history of war and produced an Emmy award-winning documentary called “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century,” according to his biography.

Winter was chosen to carry on the Social & Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Lecturer legacy based on his accomplishments and research as a renowned contributor to the realm of history, according to WSU history professor and distinguished lecture series committee member Branden Little.

“Winter is arguably the most influential historian of the First World War and it’s wonderful that we’re able to bring him to Weber State,” Little said.

According to Little, each year one of the programs within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is responsible for identifying a “big name professor who has made landmark contributions in his or her respected field.”

The task fell upon Little, as the history committee member, to find this year’s speaker. He chose Winter  in honor of the 100-year anniversary of World War I.

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American troops taking cover in a shell hole along the Western Front, Meuse, France, Oct. 30, 1918. (Source: Branden Little)

“Given that the war is a century old, I thought why not try and bring the most prominent historian on the First World War to campus to deliver us a lecture in one of these major arenas that he has helped to trail-blaze,” Little said. “I’m glad he agreed to come.”

According to the Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Francis B. Harrold the distinguished lecture series is a great way to bring attention to prominent speakers in these social and behavioral science fields.

“It’s quite an opportunity to interact with a person who is a real expert on one of the corners of this kind of human knowledge,” Harrold said. “And we’re really lucky to have (Winter) come.”

Winter has always been interested in World War I, even as a child growing up in a family of holocaust survivors from World War II.

According to him, studying World War I was the next best thing.

“I heard all too much about the Second World War. So, the first World War is as close as I can get to the stories that dominated my childhood,” he said. “I’ve spent my whole life on it.”

The free lecture will be held on Feb. 26 at 7:15 p.m. in the Hurst Center Dumke Legacy Hall and all are welcome to attend.

Winter will also host an informal conversation earlier that day about graduate school for students who are interested in progressing in their profession. This will take place at 9 a.m. in the Social Science building Room 217.

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