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.
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”.