HENK0391LU CANCELED English - Free topic 14: Gallipoli 1915: History, Memory, and Myth

Volume 2016/2017



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. After eight months and more than half a million casualties, however, 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, however, where the Gallipoli anniversary has become the most important day on the national calendar – a major public holiday where Australians reflect on what many regard as the “birth” of their nationhood. Only in Turkey 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.

The 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 2015 provided a rare opportunity for reflection on the many interlocking histories and commemorative practices of the Great War. This course takes a comparative approach, focussing on the dispersed myths of multiple combatants over the course of a century as a way of understanding the political and cultural dynamics of memory and forgetting. Students will examine the interaction between individual testimony, private grief, literary conventions, commemorative practices, popular culture, ‘official’ history and how these interacted with changes in political and social context across time and space. The aim is to gain a broader understanding of how rival meanings were produced by divergent commemorative traditions across different ideological and cultural contexts. In raising questions about how a single, self-contained event could produce such a diffusion of myths and memories, the course also addresses more fundamental issues about the problem of writing history itself.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 176,75
  • Total
  • 204,75