The First World War at Sea: Conflict, culture and commemoration: Call for papers

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 8-10 November 2018 

Call for papers deadline: 1 March 2018

This conference will explore the First World War at sea through wide-ranging themes designed to provide a forum for interdisciplinary research and new perspectives on the subject. Focused on both naval and mercantile contexts, the conference will also place the experience of the maritime war within the historical setting of the years preceding and following the conflict.

Keynote papers will be given by Professor Andrew Lambert (KCL), Professor Jan Rüger (Birkbeck), and Professor Matthew Seligmann (Brunel).

Social history:

  • The human experience of maritime conflict
  • Explorations of the war at sea from perspectives of class, rank, race, age, gender or sexuality
  • Explorations of the war at sea from imperial and global perspectives

Operational history:

  • The ‘undramatic’ duties of naval warfare: blockade, minelaying, reconnaissance, trade protection, power projection
  • Naval wartime roles around the globe
  • The wartime duties of the merchant marine
  • Technology and the war at sea

Institutional history:

  • The wartime training of naval officers and ratings
  • The impact of war on naval hierarchies and ideas of leadership
  • Institutional lessons learned, navies and the Second World War
  • The impact of the war on the merchant marine

Cultural history:

  • Public opinion and media coverage relating to the navies/merchant marine before, during and after the conflict
  • Cultural constructions of maritime heroism, and their relationship to pre-war touchstones, from Nelson to Scott

Memory and commemoration:

  • Remembering the war at sea: memorials, memoirs and material culture
  • Family history and the legacy of maritime war
  • Restoring the naval heroic: cinema, novels, pageants and museums
  • Themes, events and people that commemoration left unremembered

Please submit proposals of 300 words for individual papers, along with a short CV to

We welcome submissions from academics, local historians and community group projects.

This conference is held in partnership with Gateways to the First World War, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded centre for public engagement with the First World War Centenary.