War, Death and Memory

Beyond 1914 – The University of Sydney and the Great War

This is an official event of History Week 2014, supported by the History Council of NSW.

Charles Goldsborough Adams, 1915

Charles Goldsborough Adams, 1915. University of Sydney Archives, Book of Remembrance Research Files (ref G14/12)

9 September, 2014

In the Gothic splendour of the Great Hall, Sydney Ideas will host a panel discussion with leading Australian historians on remembering the Great War. The event marks the centenary of the first Australian soldiers killed on 11 September 1914 in New Guinea, and is a symbolic time to reflect on the hurt and loss suffered as a consequence of war on individual lives and the national psyche. Death, physical disfigurement as a consequence of grievous war wounds, emotional breakdown and grief, all had an enormous effect on Australians as they came to terms with personal loss and how to rebuild a nation. A generous repatriation system was established, and Australian war memories were immortalised in memorials and national myths. But how did individuals pick up their lives and continue on? And while commemoration was intended to heal a nation in mourning, did it also have the unintended consequence of glorifying a conflict that many hoped would be the war to end all wars?

To begin the event, Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO Governor of New South Wales will launch an exciting website exploring the impact of war and peace on Australian society. Beyond 1914 – The University of Sydney and the Great War is an interactive biographical database of students, staff and alumni who served in the First World War that uses the extensive archives and personal papers of the University of Sydney and its Colleges. There will be a demonstration of the database and information about how members of the community can expand and develop it. The panel will immediately follow the launch.

Panellists and their areas of expertise:

  • Professor of History from the University of Melbourne Joy Damousi, is author of Living with the Aftermath : trauma, nostalgia and grief in post-war Australia.
  • Professor Stephen Garton is Provost and Deputy Chancellor at the University of Sydney. He is the author of Cost of War which looks at war and repatriation.
  • Associate Professor Julia Horne is the University Historian. She is the co-organiser of Beyond 1914 – The University of Sydney and the Great War, author of Sydney the Making of a Public University.
  • Brad Manera is an expert on war and memorials. He is Executive Manager of the ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park, a battlefield archaeologist and public historian.
  • Associate Professor Mark McKenna is an ARC Future Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Sydney, author of Eye for Eternity and he has published on the Anzac Myth.
  • Kerry Neale is Curator at the Australian War Memorial. Her research looks at facial wounds and disfigurement.
  • DrTamson Pietsch is the discussion facilitator. She is the author of Empires of Scholars and an ARC DECRA Fellow in School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney.