November 6, 2008
Hew Strachan reviews the essays in A Part of History (Continuum, 2008), a book to which I contributed a chapter on remembrance, for the TLS. Hew’s criticisms of the book, and his demands for less insularity, are justified (quite glad I don’t get a mention, although I’d like to think that one of the principal points of what I wrote was that the British have remembered the war in insular terms, which is his case as well).
What I think he underestimates is the role of publishers and the media in feeding this insularity – the public demand is not perceived to be for texts that place the war in global or historical context.
Another distinguishing feature of A Part of History was a fierce attack on me by Julian Putkowski, based on selective and out of context quotation from this blog (which he identifies as my ‘personal website’). I found this quite distressing at the time – and it has certainly made me more reticent in posting, which may be no bad thing – but ultimately I was glad that the book could find space for such a range of opinion. It also highlighted for me the degree to which a gap exists in understanding about what blogging is within the historical community, and the ease with which one’s words, once posted up, can be cut and pasted into other people’s work, which probably leaves you more likely to be quoted, however angrily.
November 6, 2008
Call for Papers
‘Other Combatants, Other Fronts: Competing Histories of the First World War’
The 5th Conference of the International Society for First World War Studies
The Imperial War Museum
10th to 12th September 2009
We would like to call your attention to the Fifth Conference of the International Society for First World War Studies, which will take place in association with the Imperial War Museum and War Studies, King’s College, London in September 2009. Since 2001, the International Society for First World War Studies has held successful conferences in Lyon, Oxford, Dublin and Washington DC.
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October 3, 2008
Beginning a push that has something of the last drive to victory about it, the BBC are gearing up for a multi-platform burst of remembrance this year. The website, run out of the ‘Religion’ section, interestingly enough, is promising a whole ‘campaign’:
With the aim of personalising the act of remembrance and bringing World War One vividly alive in the present, it will encourage individuals and families to look into the stories of their relatives that lived in the First World War through a variety of activities [shouldn't there be a comma back there somewhere? I mean, I'm not surprised they lived through a variety of activities, I'm just not sure that's what they mean]. From Oct 22nd:
- Find out more about the events of the Great War on the website through the WW1 timeline and footage
- Discover your WW1 family and local history through links to an array of family history sites
- Post WW1 artefacts, photographs and memories about those who served to the online wall of remembrance
- Browse the many WW1 stories already online including those of some familiar faces
- View listings of all related programming on BBC television and radio throughout November with sneak previews available
- Attend free remembrance events across the country on the weekend of the 8th and 9th of November
- Sign up to BBC Remembrance’s texting service to receive the story of a local soldier who served in WW1
Although it’s only really supposed to get going on 22 October, some people have already added their thoughts.
Perhaps the most interesting feature at the moment is the archive of recordings from remembrance ceremonies at different points over the last sixty years.
Or you could watch Michael Palin tell you that a million Britons died in the First World War. The Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians are going to love being called British, I tell you.
More on the remembrance of the 90th anniversary of the war as it develops.