Around Oxford Editions Exhibitions Libraries

Book launch and exhibition: In Times of Strife

Friday, 28 April 2023, 5-6:30pm in the Taylor Institution Library, Room 2 and Voltaire Room

Prof. em. Charles Webster’s book ‘In Times of Strife’ explores the pursuit of humanitarian objectives in the face of perilous conditions of war, exile and extreme social dislocation. It brings together four pairs of European intellectuals and their journeys through times of strife. The first two chapters focus on the 17th century with two pairs of associated innovators: Samuel Hartlib & Jan Amos Komenský (Comenius), John Hall and William Rand. The later two chapters jump into the troubled period of the world wars of the 20th century with the friends Ernst Barlach and Jakob Steinhardt and the brothers Salo and Robert Pratzer. All relate to multi-cultural situations, mostly connected with Eastern Europe.

The material covered in the first two chapters was also presented during a Weston Library Coffee Morning presentation on 28 April 2023. Consult here the full list of books shown and watch the recording. The exhibition in the Taylorian focuses (on show until mid-May) on the material of chapter 3, the German Expressionism art of Ernst Barlach, Jakob Steinhardt and Käthe Kollwitz.

Charles Webster is an Emeritus Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College Oxford. He has written extensively on the early modern period and health care in the twentieth century. He is a pioneer of work on the Hartlib Papers. He is also an expert on German expressionism, particularly graphic works, and has contributed activity to projects relating to Käthe Kollwitz, Ernst Barlach and Jacob Steinhardt. The book applies his professional expertise to the study of family history by exploring the fate of his father’s family, the Pratzers, as a case study relevant to modern European history in times of strife.

Each section of this four-part study explores the pursuit of humanitarian objectives in the face of perilous conditions of war, exile and extreme social dislocation.

Although addressing disparate situations, there are many points of interconnection between the sections, and also relevance to current disasters as for instance the crisis in Ukraine. The Pratzer family were driven into exile from the Lviv region of Ukraine, while the Ukraine journey of Ernst Barlach traversed the current line of demarcation and culminated with a visit to Bakhmut, Kramatorsk and Kostyantynivka, precisely the area attracting the most headline attention as this book goes to press. This unusual and challenging undertaking exploits many fresh archival and related resources in pursuit of its goals of reassessment, correction and addition to knowledge on all the fronts of its coverage.

Buy the book from a bookseller (hardcover or paperback) or download a free pdf below.

3 thoughts on “Book launch and exhibition: In Times of Strife”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *