Sunday, April 3, 2016
Osman received her Summer Stipend award as part of the NEH’s “Standing Together: Humanities and the Experience of War” initiative. This program employs the humanities to help understand the complex and fluctuating relations between soldiers and the people for whom they fight. The project argues that attempts to distance citizens from war ironically can make warfare more likely and appealing. Osman starts from the premise that war and military violence were part and parcel of everyday life in the seventeenth century but had become something only imagined in the eighteenth. Soldiers were physically separated from the populace, their military exploits and conquests known and ‘experienced’ only through reading juicy, sensationalized literature. Osman concludes that this romantic, sanitized distancing of war from daily existence may well have paved the way for war’s rising popularity in the later eighteenth century. Mass citizens armies and ‘total wars’ would characterize the French Revolution and beyond.