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LETU to Host Centenary Lecture Series on World War I


LeTourneau University's School of Arts and Sciences is hosting a centenary lecture series on World War I (1914-1918) at 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings beginning Oct. 2, that will feature speakers on issues of history, science and technology, theology, literature and weapons/artifacts. All lectures are free and open to the public. The lectures will be held in the Berry Auditorium of the Glaske Center on the LETU main campus, 2100 S. Mobberly Ave.
"These lectures illustrate the diversity of academic disciplines represented in the School of Arts and Sciences," said Dr. Larry Frazier, the dean for LETU's School of Arts and Sciences. "Each of these disciplines has a unique insight on this world-changing event. Only when we look at it from all of these perspectives do we get the whole picture."

Session one: "August 1914: Causes and Lessons from The Great War" on Thursday, Oct. 2, will feature retired history professor Dr. Paul Kubricht.
One hundred years ago the First World War erupted to the surprise of most Europeans, Americans, and their leaders. While it was regarded by English author H.G. Wells and later the American president, Woodrow Wilson, as the "war to end all wars," it instead opened a century of large-scale violence and destruction. Yet, often the causes and impact of the Great War (1914-18) have been ignored as recent generations have focused on World War II, the Vietnam War, and the more recent "war" against terrorism. We seem reluctant to reflect on the bungling, the horrors, and the losses of that first modern ideological and technological war.
What forces and policies led the world to war in August, 1914? What are the lessons for today's diplomats and leaders? Why did people and soldiers go into the first battles so cavalierly and with such great optimism of victory? And why four years later were even the victorious allies consumed with pessimism? The Great War ended in tragedy and ambiguity that shaped events and drew boundaries leading to World War Two and The Cold War, and conflicts of our own time.

Session Two: "The Science and Technology of the Great War" on Thursday,
Oct. 9, will feature chemistry professor Dr. Gary DeBoer.
Large scale poison gas attacks began on the Western Front early in 1915, representing one among many weaponized uses of modern science in World War I. The Great War (1914-18) introduced the world to new technologies now considered the basic elements of modern warfare. Aviation, for purposes of intelligence and weapons delivery, tanks, machine guns, submarines, and weapons of mass destruction are all part of the story of the first great conflict of the Twentieth Century. This presentation will consider the relationship between science and technology in the weapons of WWI with a particular emphasis on weapons of mass destruction, especially chemical warfare.

Session Three: "When Poets Become Soldiers: The Literary Legacy of the 'War to End All Wars'" on Oct. 23 will feature English professor Dr. Jim Watson.
In her 2014 novel The Cartographer of No Man's Land, author P.S. Duffy considers the role of art, poetry, and song in the Great War and its aftermath. That role is at once a call to arms, therapy for the wounded in spirit, an accusation pointed at inept leadership, and an act of remembrance for lost comrades and lost innocence.
England, especially, produced a breadth and depth of poetic response to the conflict that engulfed so many soldiers from so many nations in the years 1914-18. Some British writers, like Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) view the war to be a positive outpouring of patriotic pride in a righteous cause. Others like John McCrae (1872-1918) mourn the losses experienced by ordinary men facing extra-ordinary difficulties. Others, like Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), and Ivor Gurney (1890-1937), question the all-too-human cost of the war and wonder aloud about the competence of leaders who sent so many to die for so little gain. Still others, like William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) question the very fabric of modern civilization that so readily entered so destructive an enterprise. This presentation will explore the variety of poetic responses to the First World War.

Session Four: "The Great War and Christian Theology: Critical Questions Regarding Christ and Culture" on Oct. 30 will feature assistant professor of theology Dr. Luke Tallon.
As student and young minister in Germany in the early twentieth century, Karl Barth was committed to the cultural cause of liberal Protestant theology. Everything changed for Barth, however, when he saw his esteemed theology professors supporting Germany's war effort as a holy cause at the beginning of the Great War (1914-18). This set in motion a journey that would lead Barth away from his theological training and toward a radically Christ-centered theology capable of substantive cultural critique. Through an examination of Barth's life and work before, during, and after the war, we will encounter the enduring challenge to cultural self-righteousness posed by one of the most influential Christian thinkers of modern times.

Session Five: "Weapons and Artifacts of World War I" on Nov. 6 will feature Gregg County Historical Museum board member Larry Courington.
Frank Buckles (1901-2011), the last surviving American veteran of World War I, died just short of the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict. As living memory of the war fades, artifacts become all the more important for our understanding of those dark days at the beginning of the last century.
The Gregg County Historical Museum holds in its collection a variety of objects representing the war, including uniforms, weapons, medals, certificates, and mementos, many of which help trace the development of modern warfare from the Great War to World War II and beyond. This presentation will consider how the artifacts of the war help us understand the conflict and its aftermath.

About LeTourneau University:
LeTourneau University is a Christ-centered, interdenominational institute of higher learning offering a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in aviation, arts & sciences, business, education and engineering. The university enrolls more than 2,700 students representing nearly all 50 states, more than 30 foreign countries, and 53 different denominational groups. Around 1,300 study at its main campus in Longview, Texas, a progressive hub city nestled among beautiful pine-forested hills and lakes in East Texas, approximately 120 miles east of Dallas, Texas, and 60 miles west of Shreveport, La. Students are also enrolled in a robust suite of online programs, as well as the university's innovative hybrid programs in Dallas and Houston. Committed to its core mission, LeTourneau University is a comprehensive institution of Christian higher education where educators engage learners to nurture Christian virtue, to develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, to integrate faith and work, and to serve the local and global community. The university is also led by its vision: Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life's work as a holy calling with eternal impact.

For additional information, visit www.letu.edu.

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