Archives and Texts seminar series
Monday 3rd December (wk 9)
Dr Hope Wolf (King’s College London)
War Stories: Life Writing, Letters, and the Imperial War Museum’s Archive of the 1964 BBC Series, The Great War.
A First World War veteran has survived the Second World War and knows of the devastation nuclear war can inflict. He hears that the BBC, wanting to make a half-centenary documentary series, is asking for memories of 1914-18. He sends a letter, comprising his most vivid remembrances. He doesn’t receive a reply. Fifty years after ‘The Great War’ series was first broadcast, one hundred years after the First World War, his words are finally taken out of the archive.
This paper will reflect upon my experiences of reading, and writing about, texts in this unusual Imperial War Museum archive: around 15,000 letters, all written between 1963-4. What is a researcher, equipped with literary theory and life writing methodologies, to do with a historical collection such as this? My answer to this question will be set within the context of a more general critique of the ways in which remembrances of war, and the life stories of so-called ‘ordinary’ people, are archived and interpreted.
5pm in Humss 125, Whiteknights Campus
For further information, contact Dr Nicola Wilson and Dr Sophie Heywood