HENA0392JU English - Free topic 19: Gallipoli 1915: History, Memory, Myth (Exam form C)

Volume 2014/2015

Why should a failed allied invasion of Turkey on 25 April 1915 have attracted the scrutiny of generations of scholars? This course attempts to unravel the entangled threads of one of the most decisive military defeats in British history. The Gallipoli campaign was conceived as a means of bringing the First World War to a rapid conclusion. Yet after eight months and more than half a million casualties, the allied offensive was abandoned having failed to achieve a single military objective. In Britain, Gallipoli is remembered as one of the tragic might-have-beens of the First World War – and a humiliating defeat that almost ruined the career of Winston Churchill. In Ireland, Gallipoli holds an even more problematic place in popular memory. Coinciding almost exactly with the anniversary of the Easter Rising (one year later in1916), it has proven exceedingly difficult to find a consensual means of commemorating those Irish volunteers who fought for the British army in the Dardanelles. In France, by contrast, despite casualty figures rivalling those of England, the Gallipoli campaign has been the object of collective forgetting on a massive scale, with only a single public monument and virtually no commemorative culture. Not so in Australia and New Zealand, however, where the Gallipoli anniversary has become the most important day on the national calendar – a major public holiday where Australians and New Zealanders reflect on what many regard as the “birth” of their nationhood. Only in Turkey itself is the public memory of the Gallipoli campaign awarded such prominence, although here too there are subtle differences of emphasis, and internal disputes over the campaign’s meaning and significance.


This course takes a comparative approach to the contested histories of the Gallipoli campaign across a broad front. By focussing on the dispersed myths of a single campaign, the course offers a microcosm of the broader agencies of memory and forgetting that emerged out of the First World War. Students will examine the interaction between individual testimony, private grief, literary conventions, commemorative practices, popular culture, ‘official’ history and the changes in political  and social context across time and space, as a means of understanding the divergent commemorative traditions that produced these rival ‘public memories’. In raising questions about how a single, self-contained event could produce such a diffusion of myths and memories, the course   addresses more fundamental issues about the problem of writing history.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 176,75
  • Total
  • 204,75