Society for First World War Studies. It is a selection of papers from a conference held in Innsbruck in late September 2011.
The society began as a small-scale attempt to bring together an international group of postgraduate and postdoctoral students who work on the First World War in 2001. Over the years, the habit developed of gathering every two years to discuss new research. Although participation was widened beyond those scholars in the earliest stages of their careers, the emphasis on encouraging the newest entrants to the profession remained, and the Innsbruck conference was organised by a team of postgrads. They were: Joachim Burgschwentner, Matthias Egger, Nicole-Melanie Goll, Georg Hoffmann, Philipp Lesiak and Brigitte
Strauss. The team was supported by Gunda Barth-Scalmani (Leopold- Franzens University of Innsbruck) and Werner Suppanz (Karl-Franzens University of Graz). They brought great energy, superb organisational skill and fresh intellectual insights to their task.
The chosen theme of the conference, ‘Other fronts, other wars?’, in combination with the decision to hold a society conference in one of the succeeding countries of the Habsburg Empire for the first time, brought a radically different perspective to the society’s proceedings. Reminding those of us more familiar with the Western Front or Gallipoli, that there was more than one Eastern Front, and ultimately – through a remarkable field trip at the close of the conference – physically taking many delegates to one of the more extraordinary parts of one of the (South-) Eastern Fronts in the Dolomite mountains.
At our conferences, the papers are pre-circulated and then they are presented and summarised by a discussant as a precursor to a conversational examination of the paper between its author, the discussant and the other conference participants. This format has developed as a means to maximise the time available to share ideas and knowledge. In a context where scholars of numerous nationalities and a wide breadth of expertise on the war are gathered in the room, it brings with it tremendous opportunities to work across national and thematic divides.