Call for Papers – 1940-1942: The Fulcrum of the Twentieth Century?

Just in from colleagues at The Second World War Research Group at King’s College London is a call for papers for a conference on the subject of ‘1940-1942: The Fulcrum of the Twentieth Century?’

John Darwin has christened the period 1940 to 1942 the ‘great crisis of empire’. In these years, he argued, the British world system ‘all but broke up and never fully recovered’. The British Empire did not fade slowly into the shadows, reach its apogee in the inter-war years or finally succumb to a wave of decolonisation in the 1960s; the ‘real turning point came with the strategic catastrophe of 1940-2’. David Reynolds, in a similar vein, has labelled 1940 the ‘fulcrum of the twentieth century’. The military defeat in France forced Britain to move towards a ‘special relationship’ with the United States and at the same time distance itself from ‘closer association’ with France and continental Europe. These same years were of no less significance for Germany, Italy, Japan, those states occupied by the Axis in Europe and the Far East, or the USSR and the United States. After June 1940, the status quo was, to all intents and purposes, ‘blown to pieces’.

 In an attempt to better understand the significance of this period of fundamental change, the ‘fulcrum of the Twentieth century’, this workshop will explore the years between 1940 and 1942. Paper and panel proposals are invited on themes such as:

  • Geo-politics

  • Strategy

  • Social and political change

  • Military Operations

  • Alliance Warfare

  • The Other Wars (Wars Beneath the Wars)

Paper proposals should include an abstract (of no more than 300 words) and a two page CV. Panel proposals should, in addition, include a brief description of the panel theme (no more than 500 words). The deadline for proposals is 29 April 2016. Submissions and queries should be addressed to and This call can be downloaded here.

The workshop will be held at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham, Wiltshire, SN6 8TS. Limited funds will be available to support travel and accommodation costs.

The group’s page can be found here.


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