Leese, Peter (Jeremy)

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LEESE, Peter (Jeremy)


Male. Education: University of Hertfordshire, B.A. (humanities; with honors), 1983; University of Warwick, M.A. (European cultural history), 1984; Open University, Ph.D. (history), 1989.


Office—English Department, Jagiellonian University, Al. Mickiewicza 9, 31-120 Krakow, Poland.


Educator and author. Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, assistant professor of English.


British Council (Poland) Inter-University Seminar on Intercultural Studies (project coordinator), Oral History Society.


Ph.D. grant award, ESRC, 1986-89; curriculum development grants, HESP/Civic Education Project, 1992-95; curriculum development grants, British Council, 1996-98; travel research grant, DAAD, for visiting archives and libraries in Germany, 1998; development grant, British Council "Link," 1998-2001; publication grant, British Council, 2002.


(With C. Cook) St. Martin's Guide to Sources in Contemporary British History, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 1994, published as The Longman Guide to Sources in Contemporary British History, Longman (London, England), 1994.

(Translator, with Elz·bieta Wójcik-Leese) Wlodzimierz Szturc, A Short History of Polish Literature, Polish Academy of Sciences (Krakow, Poland), 1998.

Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War, Palgrave (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor, with B. Piatek and I. Curyllo-Klag) The British Migrant Experience, 1700-2000: An Anthology, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor, with W. Witalisz, and contributor) PASE Papers in Cultural Literature: Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference of PASE, 2001, IFA/Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland), 2003.

Contributor of papers and articles to publications including British Journal of Psychology, Historical Journal, Pears Cyclopedia, Yes, and Times Higher Education Supplement.


Peter Leese's book Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War is an in-depth account of the experiences of British soldiers during World War I and their psychological response to the trauma of combat that came to be known in early 1915 as "shell shock." Maureen T. Moore, a contributor to Journal of Military History, noted that the study is "well founded on an impressive body of primary documents … [and] a wide array of periodical literature, memoirs, medical journals and histories, and solid secondary sources on England's war experience, military medicine, war literature, and cultural contexts."

Leese organized his book into three sections titled "Discoveries," "Wartime," and "Legacies." He traces the origins of the awareness of shell shock to discussions relating to "traumatic neurasthenia," an adverse psychological reaction that often appeared in people who, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, had experienced train accidents. Similar adverse reactions were noted in soldiers, who thus became psychological casualties of war. Part two examines the wartime diagnosis and treatment of the neurosis, describes the diverse methods and varying quality of care received by officers and men from the ranks, and compares British home-front and frontline treatments with those given by French and Germans. The third section addresses the enduring effects of shell shock on veterans and civilians alike.

Leese wrote that "shell-shock cannot be understood without an awareness of those socio-cultural forces which shaped its definition and reception by the wider society," a point of departure that J. A. A. Black, who reviewed the book for Albion, observed was "well made and sustained consistently throughout the main part of the book." Black commented that the book is clearly written and accessible and "a worthy contribution to the existing literature." Moore noted that the book is "densely packed with information" that sometimes causes the chronology of events to get lost, but commented that "those willing to pay attention, however, will be rewarded by this first full-length treatment of Britain's 'shell shock' experience."

When Daniel Crewe reviewed The British Migrant Experience, 1700-2000: An Anthology, for the Times Literary Supplement, he noted that Leese and his coeditors intended to create a "cubist depiction of Britain's migrant past rather than an ultimate reproduction," and that they succeeded in doing so. The anthology covers 300 years of immigration to Britain and is divided into three sections: the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. The book includes personal recollections and commentaries from more than 250 sources and depicts experiences of immigrants from around the world, including Irish, Jewish, Arab, Lithuanian, and Moroccan peoples. Crewe commented that "these tales add up to a striking view of Britain, including immigrants' responses to snow (more than once), railway carriages and the [National Health Service], and through the reactions of Britons, which varied from the welcoming to disturbing talk of lynchings."



Leese, Peter, Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War, Palgrave (New York, NY), 2002.


Albion, winter, 2004, J. A. A. Black, review of Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War, p. 699.

Journal of Military History, April, 2003, Maureen T. Moore, review of Shell Shock, pp. 588-589.

Times Literary Supplement, January 31, 2003, Daniel Crewe, review of The British Migrant Experience, 1700-2000: An Anthology, p. 30.


Life Stories Project Web site,http://www.lifestoriesproject.org/peter.html (July 8, 2004), "Dr. Peter Leese."*

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