Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University
WSU History Newsletter Scholarships and Awards

Graduate News

Brianna Webb to present at 25th annual World History Association conference in Ghent, Belgium

Brianna-WebbPullman MA student Brianna Webb will present her paper “Layers of Memory: Käthe Kollwtiz and Die Eltern” at 25th annual World History Association conference in Ghent, Belgium. Her research examines the role of war memorials through a study of Käthe Kollwitz’s sculpture Die Eltern (“The Grieving Parents”) and challenges a popular perception that memorials suggest a single narrative.

Brianna explores the transformation by which private or national war memorials represent suffering and grief on a global scale, while possessing the potential to elicit various narratives based on one’s degree of intimacy to an event.

The “Grieving Parents” originally held an exclusive significance for Kollwitz, and she utilized the sculpture for personal commemoration for her son, Peter, who died in Flanders on October 22, 1914.

Once she dedicated her artwork to the Vladslo war cemetery in 1932 (where Peter is buried), her personal memory transcended into a public tribute for the German families who were afflicted by the war, and like Kollwitz, had a son buried in the cemetery.

After World War II, significant restoration of German war cemeteries took place, leaving the “Grieving Parents” preserved as an international representation of grief and suffering intrinsic of war. The conference will take place July 2-5, 2016, at Ghent University.