Vajas Gabriel Liulevicius, the director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, gave a speech in Watkins auditorium over World War I on Oct. 26.
Liulevicius is a distinguished professor in the College of Humanities at UTK. His list of achievements include UTK’s award for excellence in teaching, a national Humanities Fellowship award, and his two published two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity and German Occupation During World War I (2000) and The German Myth of the East: 1800 to Present (2009).
Liulevicius gave around an hour-long speech to a nearly full auditorium in Watkins, starting at 7 p.m. His speech began on the topic of how we should remember the events of World War I, in which he referred to the Tennessee Great War Commission, which was created by legislation in the state of Tennessee. A great emphasis was put on collecting remnants and memories of the war, as the generation who lived through the war are becoming more scarce.
According to Liulevicius, there are three reasons why the first World War should be remembered even a century later. These reasons are that the war connected the world in surprising and unexpected ways, was unprecedentedly destructive and its consequences were long-lasting. The UTK professor would go on to elaborate on all three of these talking points, generally going from broad subjects to specific people, such as former United States president Woodrow Wilson. Incredible insight was given as to why the war started and why the assassination of a little known archduke started one of the most destructive conflicts in human history.
The speech was capped of at the end by a showcase of an artifact from the Great War: a pocket knife given to an allied soldier from a German soldier right after the war’s conclusion.
More information about Vajas Gabriel Liulevicius and what he is involved in can be found on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s website.