The Beleaguered Ear. On Fighting Underground and Learning to Listen in the Great War

Vortrag, DHI London

On the frontlines of the First World War the noise of battle, rattling machine guns, cannonading artillery and bursting shells laid siege to the ear. Soldiers had to learn how to discriminate between these various war noises in order to anticipate looming danger and increase their chances of survival. Technical devices and tactics were designed to detect the sounds of war: listening posts were employed, telephone systems and microphone equipment were installed, sound locators were invented and geophones adapted to the mine war. Unlike the eye that could be closed, however, the ear was always open and constantly in touch with the fighting. Perceiving and identifying war noises became a top priority in the trenches. The lecture will explore the sound of war from the perspective of the soldiers on the battlefields. 

Julia Encke is editor of the feuilleton in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung and from 2001 to 2005 was editor of the feuilleton in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. After studying literature in Freiburg, Toulouse and Munich, her doctoral research was on the sensory perception of the First World War. Her publications include Augenblicke der Gefahr. Der Krieg und die Sinne, 1914-1934 (2006) and Charisma und Politik – Warum unsere Demokratie mehr Leidenschaft braucht (2014).