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Deborah Buffton

Specialty area(s)

Modern France, Modern China, effects of war on society, peace movements

Brief biography

I teach courses on French History, Chinese History, Asian and European surveys, and Peace and War. My World History courses have focused on two themes: Human Rights and Peace & War.
My research interests relate broadly to the ways war and peace affect societies. I have studied military occupation in France in the 20th century, the uses of propaganda, women and war, the ways we remember war--often quite differently from what actually happened!-- and peace activism in the US. Recently I have done research into how societies remember war through war memorials and holidays, and how we envision peace through peace memorials. Currently I am studying the work of Julia Grace Wales and the "Wisconsin Plan" for peace in World War I. I am especially interested in how war affects noncombatants and how militarism becomes a part of the culture of a society.

Current courses at UWL

Global Origins of the Modern World

The French Revolution

History Research Seminar


Ph.D. History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1987
M.A. History, State University of New York-Binghamton, 1981
B.A. History, Ithaca College, 1979

Teaching history

World History To/Since 1500
Asian Survey

European Survey

History of France, 1750-present

History of China

The French Revolution

Nonviolent Resistance

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Peace and War

World War I

Professional history

I was a teaching assistant in history at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

In 1987 I joined the History Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.


Since 1993 I have served on the Executive Council of the Wisconsin institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and was Executive Director from 1994-1997 and 2007-2010.

Since 2015 I have served on the Board of the Peace History Society and in 2017 I began serving a 2-year term as President.

Research and publishing


Books, chapters, edited journals

  • "Blurred Boundaries: Judeo-Christian Imagery in First World War Memorials in Europe and the United States," chapter in Frank Jacobs and Kenneth Pearl (ed.), War and Memorials: The Age of Nationalism and the Great War (Friedrich Schoningh, in press).

  • “Memorials as Text: Debating the War’s Meaning through Monuments” in Debra Rae Cohen and Douglas Higbee (eds.). Teaching Representations of the First World War (Modern Language Association, 2017)
  • Associate editor of The Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies (1997-2004); ms reviewer, 1997-present
  • Religion, War and Peace (ed.). (Stevens Point: Wisconsin Institute, 1997)
  • “Teaching the History of Peace and War” in Saadia Touvel, ed. Teaching about Conflict and Peacemaking (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 1997)


Journal articles

  • “The Memorialization of Women Veterans” in United Women Veterans Newsletter (spring 2006)
  • “Peace, War and Memory” in Ithaca College Quarterly, (Fall 2006).
  • "Memorialization and the Selling of War" in Peace Review, 17.1 (2005): 25-31.
  • "The Intersection of the Past and the Present: le Monument des fusillés" in Proceedings of the Western Society for French History 30 (2004): 137-144.