Research Group

Alice König established the Visualising War Research Group in 2018 to offer researchers at the University of St Andrews the opportunity for cross-disciplinary dialogue and ideas-sharing around the study of war. Our members work in a wide range of fields (Art History, Classics, English, Evolutionary Biology, Film Studies, History,  International Relations, Management, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Psychology) and we also engage with associate members from outside St Andrews.

Our particular focus of interest is discourses of war: e.g., narratives that anticipate, dread, encourage, celebrate, or critique war; representations of battle itself; articulations of military expertise or failure, on and off the battlefield; post-conflict story-telling, by perpetrators, victims, journalists, lawyers; and the use of military metaphors to tell other combative tales. We deal with many different narrative media (e.g., historical texts, oral anecdotes, artistic representations, political speeches, film and stage drama, commemorative events, social media) and we approach this material from many different angles. Our mix of Humanities and Social Science expertise enables us to conduct rigorous cross-disciplinary exploration of what war stories do and how they shape individuals’ and groups’ experiences, identities and behaviours.

In bringing such a range of scholars together to think collaboratively about discourses of war in different genres, media, periods and places, we aim not only to enrich our respective research projects but also to inform public understanding of past and present habits of visualising war, and to make clearer the role that battle narratives and war stories generally can play in shaping and even mitigating or preventing future conflict. To this end, we work closely with non-academic experts, such as military personnel, veterans, defence trainers and strategists, war reporters, artists, story-tellers, film- and theatre-professionals and museum curators.

Principle goals:

  • To support individual scholarship via regular interdisciplinary events involving external invited speakers as well as St Andrews-based researchers
  • to facilitate collaborative work and provide a space where new research partnerships might form across different disciplines
  • to share ideas and expertise around interdisciplinary funding opportunities and interdisciplinary publication
  • to provide a forum for PG students in different disciplines to explore new research horizons, and for academic staff to collaborate on PG funding applications and PGR/PGT teaching
  • to open up new opportunities for multi-School teaching initiatives and student engagement (e.g. URAs) at the undergraduate level
  • to engage with other networks/groups within and beyond academia which are concerned with the conduct, representation and study of war
  • to support each other in the building and maintenance of knowledge exchange partnerships with individuals and organisations outside academia
  • to engage in public debate and inform and influence public discourse about the ways in which different people and societies regard, represent and respond to war

Our growing network includes academics and practitioners from many different sectors and from all around the world. St Andrews collaborators include:

Francesca Borgo, School of Art History

Jon Coulston, School of Classics

Rory Cox, School of History

Faye Donnelly, School of International Relations

Bridget Heal, School of History

Andy Gardner, School of Biology

Alice König, School of Classics

Jon Hesk, School of Classics

Kenneth Mavor, School of Psychology and Neuroscience

Peter Mackay, School of English

Laura Mills, School of International Relations

Steve Murdoch, School of History

Phillips O’Brien, School of International Relations

Tom Rice, Department of Film Studies

Guy Rowlands, School of History

Leshu Torchin, Department of Film Studies

Mathilde von Bulow, School of International Relations

Nicolas Wiater, School of Classics

School of Classics (01334 462607)