Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Made and Broken by The Great War: Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant and her Circle of Friends at the Beinecke
Wendy Moffat, current Beinecke visiting fellow
Location is wheelchair accessible
Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant (1881-1965) covered World War I for the nascent New Republic magazine. In 1916 Sergeant left the hubbub of bohemian life in Greenwich Village—her friends included Willa Cather and the radical writer Randolph Bourne—to find her way in Paris. Two weeks before the Armistice, in October 1918, she was grievously wounded by a German grenade on a battlefield near Reims. She spent months recovering. From her hospital bed she composed a memoir of war and peace: Shadow-Shapes: The Journal of a Wounded Woman October 1918-May 1919.
Sergeant’s papers at the Beinecke reveal the texture of life in wartime New York and Paris. This talk will focus on Sergeant and three of her friends whose lives were transformed by the experience of war: Sidney Howard, the flying ace who went on to become a playwright; Henry Martyn Hoyt, a painter and poet; and Thomas Salmon, a psychiatrist and pioneer of treatment for post-traumatic stress. This talk will balance narrative and detective work, history and historiography, showing how the extraordinary range and interdependency of the Yale collections has advanced my work-in-progress.