Roundtable | Beyond Disciplinary Communities TFDC 2.14
Jul 05, 2023 13:30 - 15:00(Europe/London)
20230705T1330 20230705T1500 Europe/London 4.22. Writing War and the Ephemera Effect

How can ephemera help reshape narratives of war? This roundtable brings together academics working on this issue to collaboratively think through how ephemera and memory are intertwined. It brings together scholars from different disciplines: English Literature (Ann-Marie Einhaus); History (Chris Kempshall and Ann-Marie Foster); and Creative Writing (Felicity Tattersall and Tony Williams) to discuss the relationship between literature, history, creative process, and printed pieces of paper.We contend that ephemera – small, transient pieces of paper and small movable objects – have the power to revitalise the way that we understand history, and the future imaginings of the past. Taking our AHRC-funded collaborative project 'Ephemera and Writing about War in Britain, 1914 to Present' as our basis, we explore how marginalised histories in a conflict setting can be reinstated through a) the archival use of ephemera and b) the imaginative power of creative writing to produce new work centred on these fragmentary histories.This is a methodological injunction into a subject matter that has thus far largely escaped serious consideration by scholars. Santanu Das's groundbreaking work into the Indian Army in the First World War has found that ephemera holds the memory of conflict for Indian troops far more than any colonial administrative source. We argue that the same is true of ephemera in other First World War contexts. In Britain, the memory of the First World War is focused on white, male, often middle class soldiers. White women are sometimes remembered in middle-class professions, such as nursing, and in indistinct ideas of mourning after the Armistice.In our project we have found examples of ephemera from groups who are often historically othered. We have d ...

TFDC 2.14 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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How can ephemera help reshape narratives of war? This roundtable brings together academics working on this issue to collaboratively think through how ephemera and memory are intertwined. It brings together scholars from different disciplines: English Literature (Ann-Marie Einhaus); History (Chris Kempshall and Ann-Marie Foster); and Creative Writing (Felicity Tattersall and Tony Williams) to discuss the relationship between literature, history, creative process, and printed pieces of paper.

We contend that ephemera – small, transient pieces of paper and small movable objects – have the power to revitalise the way that we understand history, and the future imaginings of the past. Taking our AHRC-funded collaborative project 'Ephemera and Writing about War in Britain, 1914 to Present' as our basis, we explore how marginalised histories in a conflict setting can be reinstated through a) the archival use of ephemera and b) the imaginative power of creative writing to produce new work centred on these fragmentary histories.

This is a methodological injunction into a subject matter that has thus far largely escaped serious consideration by scholars. Santanu Das's groundbreaking work into the Indian Army in the First World War has found that ephemera holds the memory of conflict for Indian troops far more than any colonial administrative source. We argue that the same is true of ephemera in other First World War contexts. In Britain, the memory of the First World War is focused on white, male, often middle class soldiers. White women are sometimes remembered in middle-class professions, such as nursing, and in indistinct ideas of mourning after the Armistice.

In our project we have found examples of ephemera from groups who are often historically othered. We have drawn together ephemera which shows Black British women workers, Roma/Traveller soldiers, and Jewish war workers to show the multicultural and multireligious make up of people involved in the First World War. This ephemera is being used as the basis of professional creative writing and creative workshops with young people from North East of England to ask how this ephemera can help change the memory of war. This roundtable showcases this work and forms the basis of a discussion about using ephemera in memory work.

We will loosely structure our discussion around the following three questions:
- What can ephemera reveal about marginalised histories?
- How can ephemera fuel a more diverse understanding of the past?
- What futures can we imagine when using ephemera as the basis of our storytelling about the past?

Our roundtable hopes to open up a wider dialogue about interdisciplinary approaches to understanding, commemorating and teaching war (and the past more generally) in the twenty-first century by exploring the importance of transient objects in a digital age. We seek to interrogate disciplinary boundaries between history, literary studies and creative writing and offer suggestions as to how different disciplinary approaches can work together to understand memory processes linked to fleeting physical traces of the past.

Prof./Professor
,
Northumbria University
Independent Writer and Illustrator
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
,
University of Exeter
Research Fellow
,
Northumbria University
British Academy Visiting Fellow
,
Northumbria University
Dr/Associate Professor
,
Northumbria University
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