C.E.W. Bean’s Passchendaele – Upcoming conference presentation in Singapore

Next week I’ll be attending the conference The British Empire and the Great War – Colonial Societies / Cultural Responses, which is being held at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, from 19-22 February 2014.

I’m excited to be presenting a paper titled “C.E.W. Bean’s Passchendaele”, which is drawn from a chapter of my forthcoming PhD thesis. When I responded to the call-for-papers in July last year I gave this abstract:

As the world marks the 2014-18 centenary of the First World War, Australia plans to observe an anniversary that is at once more narrow and more broad: the 2015 ‘Anzac Centenary’ commemorating and celebrating a ‘Century of Service’. This approach is largely the result of one Australian cultural legacy of the First World War: the much-cherished and much-criticised archetype of the Australian fighting man, the Anzac, that is depicted in the works of the Australian official war correspondent and historian C.E.W. Bean. But how did Bean actually go about his work? This paper will go beyond previous studies of Bean’s work on Gallipoli and examine his experience and recording of the Battle of Passchendaele (the Third Battle of Ypres) – Australia’s most costly military engagement during its most costly year of the war and often a shorthand for ‘futility’ throughout the British empire. The paper will situate Bean as a unique correspondent—historian and consider Bean’s process for writing about this most controversial of battles in the official history.

And despite all of the research, writing and thinking I’ve done about Bean and Passchendaele in the last six months, the paper will be more or less what it says on the tin.

The Australian First World War official history volume that deals with Passchendaele, "The A.I.F. in France, 1917". I've always liked this photograph of Bean at Martinpuich in February 1917, which is captioned in the book "C.E.W. Bean in action": in action as both official correspondent and official historian.

The Australian First World War official history volume that deals with Passchendaele, The A.I.F. in France, 1917. I’ve always liked this photograph of Bean at Martinpuich in February 1917, which is captioned in the book “C.E.W. Bean in action”: in action as both official correspondent and official historian. The photograph, now in the public domain, is by Herbert Baldwin and can be viewed in the Australian War Memorial’s collection here.

Of course, I’m also excited to connect with fellow researchers, especially those who I mostly know through Twitter and blogs. Jo Hawkins of the University of Western Australia and historypunk will be presenting a paper titled “Anzac for Sale: The Gallipoli Campaign in Consumer Culture, 1915-1921”; you can read her preview blog post about it here. Dr Brett Holman of the University of New England and Airminded will talk about “Mystery Aeroplanes and the Colonial State of Mind in Total War”. I first learned of Brett’s work on mystery aeroplanes at the Australian Historical Association conference in Adelaide in July 2012 (he blogged about the conference here) and am looking forward to hearing more. Steve Marti of the University of Western Ontario and Blog, Sweat, and Tears will be presenting a paper titled “Frenemy Aliens: The National and Transnational Considerations of Serbian Contingents in Australia, Canada and New Zealand”. My colleague from the University of Adelaide, Alexia Moncrieff (@HistoryNerdess), will talk about “Australian Medical-Military Expertise: The Dardanelles and its Consequences”.

You can download the full program for the Singapore conference, including abstracts, here. The International Wi-Fi and Academic Etiquette gods being willing, I’ll be live-tweeting it @ACPGilbertson.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s