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Croatian Autobiography and the First World War


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Hameršak, Filip. (2013). Croatian Autobiography and the First World War. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Comparative Literature
Department of History. [mentor Duda, Dean and Agičić, Damir].

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The main purpose of this thesis is – using methodology of contemporary historiography and literary study approaches – to detect, research and analyze the corpus of published book-length autobiographies of Croatian low-ranking officers, non-commisioned officers and soldiers (seamen), direct participants of the First World War. Beside paying attention to this, in Croatian academic community largely neglected or onesidedly considered global conflict, the author will discuss general problems concerning interaction of past reality, literature and (social, military, cultural) history from below. Besides relevant scholarly achievements – discussed mainly in the fist part of the thesis, defined as well as a critical survey as a possible methodological suggestion – the research is based on more than fourty published book-length autobiographies (for the purpose the term autobiography denotes all genres of rather systematic writing or speaking about oneself, regardless of its form or temporal distance) of direct war participants, either ethnic Croatians or persons born on the territory of Republic of Croatia (including parts of ex-Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia), but also other members of military units with mostly Croatian cadres. In order to detect proper contextual determinants, propaganda and normative texts (battle manuals, rules of conduct), as well as works of literary “fiction” (novels, short stories, poetry) with significant “empirical input”, are also taken into account. By combining contemporary historiography and literary study approaches, incomplete but highly valuable referential value of these texts is demonstrated concerning themes typical in literary, social, cultural and military history from below – period and purpose of creation and publication, sub-genre classification and poetic characteristics, social status of the author, his attitudes towards Austria-Hungary and Yugoslavia, his treatment of war causes and guilt, also of everyday life, “actualities of war”, stresses and mortal danger, fellow- and enemy soldiers, civilians, family, religion, sexuality, literature, including more general personal and world-view changes. As opposed to a significant part of global theoretical scene and to the trend of textological approach to autobiography, which is dominant in Croatian literary study, the thesis strives to promote individual, biographical (prosopographical) perspective, arguing its necessity for wider understanding of mainly impersonaly treated modernisation processes, notable in the all fields of human activity.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Related URLs:
Uncontrolled Keywords: autobiography, First World War, literature, military history, methodology, history from below, sociology
Subjects: Comparative literature
Departments: Department of Comparative Literature
Department of History
Supervisor: Duda, Dean and Agičić, Damir
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2013 10:34
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2014 13:09

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