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Soldier-Poet Or Écrivain-Combattant: How The French Trenches Of World War I Defined Witnessing, Nichole T. Gleisner
Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature
This paper explores how the French trenches of WWI defined the act of witnessing. An examination of Third Republic grammar textbooks by Claude Augé shows how soldiers were predisposed to be receptive to trench newspapers' exhortations to become witnesses to the war experience. An analysis of these pedagogic reforms, paired with a close reading of trench newspapers, show why the broader term écrivain-combattant emerged in France, as opposed to soldier-poet in the British literary context.