Ross Pendergraft Library’s “World War I and America: A Centennial Exploration” highlighted Dr. Stanley Lombardo in the fourth program of the series on Oct. 19.
Lombardo, a Navy veteran and English professor at Arkansas Tech University, presented “How the War Changed American Literature – Hemingway and the American Expatriates.” However, Lombardo covered not only American literature during World War I, but also works of art and films during this time period.
The arts were prominent in World War I. Literature primarily seemed to stand out, with novelists and poets such as Robert Frost and Ernest Hemingway. Although these two did not necessarily serve in the war, they both had an understanding and awareness of the war going around them. Hemingway did become an ambulance driver for the war, and wrote “Soldier’s Home.” The poem relates to soldiers who have “come home but are not really home” as Lombardo describes it.
Many soldiers who return back struggle with depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as the soldier does within this poem. Frost wrote “Not To Keep,” a poem about the struggle of being away from home. American literature helped shape society’s views of soldiers and what they went through. In “Three Soldiers”, a novel written by John Dos Passos in 1921, showed the burdens soldiers carried, such as “the need for warmth, bread, and cleanliness.”
Artists during World War I also sent powerful messages to America. Illustrators and painters such as Charles Chambers and Harvey Thomas Dunn were great influencers in World War I art. Chambers created a poster in favor of the Red Cross, with a slogan that said, “In Service of Those Who Suffer.” This was a powerful statement during this time, and reiterated the messages society was sending.
A lot of organizations and individuals did their part to help the war on the home front, just as Hemingway became an ambulance driver for the war. Silent films also were a huge part of this era. Although around 50% were destroyed, Lombardo showed a clip from 1925 film “The Big Parade.”
Most notably in American literature, however, was not Hemingway or Frost; it was Laurence Stallings, who authored “Plumes” and “3 Godfathers.” Stallings, who was mentioned continuously throughout the program, lost his leg during the war. Yet, Stallings continued to write and showcase the war. He also took a big part in films and plays that shocked the American people. “He dared to use soldier language,” Lombardo said of Stallings’s films. Stallings also published “The First World War: A Photographic History” of which Lombardo had a copy for those in attendance to look at after the event.
The fifth and final program on World War I and America will take place on Thursday, November 9th, on Veterans Appreciation. For more information on library events, call (479) 964-0569 or visit http://library.atu.edu.