‘1918-2018: The End of the War & The Reshaping of a Century’, 6-8 September 2018, University of Wolverhampton
This conference, hosted by the Centre for Historical Research at the University of Wolverhampton in association with the WFA and the FWW Network for Early Career & Postgraduate Researchers, seeks to spotlight the latest research on the events of 1918 as well as the global significances, consequences, and legacy of this watershed year.
The conference will include keynote addresses from some of the leading names in the field: Professor Alison Fell (Leeds), Professor Peter Frankopan (Oxford), Professor John Horne (TCD), Professor Gary Sheffield (Wolverhampton), Professor Sir Hew Strachan (St Andrews), Professor Laura Ugolini (Wolverhampton) & Professor Jay Winter (Yale).
We invite abstracts for 20-minute presentations fitting within the conference topic. Therein we encourage international perspectives and seek a range of historical approaches together with cross-disciplinary insights. Suggested themes may include but are not limited to:
Warfare in 1918
The War in 1918
Women in 1918
Strategy, Tactics & Technology
Victory & Defeat
Winners & Losers
Peace & (Ongoing) Conflict
Aftermaths, Legacies & Impacts
Veterans (Male & Female)
Civilians & Consequences
Gender, Class, Race & Ethnicity
Ends & Beginnings
Learning/Understanding the War
Commemoration & Memory
We welcome submissions from scholars, including early career researchers & postgraduate students, as well as independent researchers, organisations, and community projects.
The First World War Network is delighted to be among the institutions supporting this conference, and we are keen to encourage members to submit submissions on relevant topics. We hope to be in a position to offer a limited number of bursaries to help support the participation of ECRs/PGRs in this event, and will be providing opportunities for ECR/PGR development as part of the conference. For further details, please contact Dr Oli Wilkinson at the address below.
Abstracts of 250 words should be accompanied by your name, affiliation (if applicable) and a brief biographical statement (c. 100 words). Panel submissions will also be considered.
Network member and musician Martin Purdy has commemorated the death of a First World War nurse in song. On the one hundredth anniversary of Nellie Spindler’s death, Martin has written a brief introduction to the commemorative project for us. Please do check out the song, and hopefully plenty of our members will be able to catch a performance from Harp and a Monkey soon!
On this day 100 years ago (August 21, 1917), Nellie Spindler, a nurse from Wakefield in Yorkshire, was resting in her tent after a hard night-shift at the No.32 British Casualty Clearing Station in Brandhoek, Belgium, when a German shell fragment pierced the canvass, hit her and killed her.
The sacrifice of Nellie Spindler, and nurses in the First World War in general, has been the focus of a recent project involving the folk experimentalists and storytelling trio Harp and a Monkey – and they have released a video today (which you can view by clicking the link below) to mark the anniversary of Nellie’s death.
Martin Purdy, the band’s frontman and a First World War historian, said: “Recent events to mark the centenary of the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres, or ‘Passchendaele’, have focused on the soldiers, but it would seem fitting today to spare a thought for the nursing staff, many of whom – like Nellie Spindler – were never too far from danger.”
‘Clean White Sheets’ (The Nellie Spindler Song) was inspired by the work of secondary school children from Nellie’s home town, who worked with Professor Christine Hallett from Manchester University to remember the sacrifices of their local heroine, who was only in her mid-twenties when she died.
Martin added: “The idea of Clean White Sheets is based around the memoirs of the wounded, who would often judge how close they were to home – and safety – by how clean the sheets were. It just seemed like a very simple but evocative and powerful image.”
As well as performing their standard shows, Harp and a Monkey have spent the past two years highlighting different aspects of the First World War, and challenging stereotypes about it, by performing in unusual venues related to the conflict on home shores. This has seen the Lancashire trio perform to the inmates of a prison that once housed conscientious objectors; disabled veterans on a community purpose-built for the maimed in 1919; at the scene of a Zeppelin attack in the middle of the West Pennine Moors; at the former parish church of the most decorated WW1 clergyman; inside the pithead of a mine that was crucial to the war effort; in front of the railway van that brought home the body of the Unknown Warrior; and on the site of a former WW1 aerodrome.
In coming weeks they will perform two more free shows open to the general public:
The first show will be on Sunday, September 10 inside a First World War military hut in a farm field in Suffolk. More than 800,000 volunteers needed housing around the country after the outbreak of the war in 1914, and providing the huts to do so became the biggest building project of its kind ever undertaken. After the conflict, many of the huts went on to have useful lives and some are still found in communities around the country today under the guise of scout huts, churches, church halls and the like. A project is now underway (courtesy of the Khaki Devil organisation) to restore and preserve a number of these huts and build a museum around them, and it is this collection that will provide the backdrop to the Harp and a Monkey show at Brook Farm, Bells Lane, Hawstead, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP29 5NW. The show starts at 2pm, is free and suitable for all ages.
The second show will be on Saturday, September 30 at the Heritage Centre in Crossgates Library, Leeds. This is the community that housed the Barnbow munitions factory during the First World War in which there was a huge explosion in December 1916 that killed 35 of the female workers and injured many more. Sadly, many of the dead could only be identified by discs with their names on that they wore around their necks. Because of the censorship at the time, the explosion was kept secret and production started again soon afterwards in the affected workroom. It would be six years after the end of the war before the story was made public. The memorial to the dead is near to the heritage centre on Farm Road, which also hosts an exhibition about the event. The show starts at 1pm, is free and once again suitable for all ages.
The performances include field recordings and interviews with veterans, new songs and re-workings of traditional and contemporaneous songs. The shows are tied to the band’s critically acclaimed third album ‘War Stories’, which was described by the likes of The Observer as “bold and brilliant”.
Martin Purdy is a former newspaper editor, battlefield tour guide and First World War advisor to the likes of the BBC Who Do You Think You Are? magazine – for whom he wrote a book in 2008 (reprinted in 2013) on how to research First World War service people. He is the co-author of two popular First World War books (The Gallipoli Oak and Doing Our Bit) and has written numerous articles and academic papers on the subject. He gained his BA and MA (researching Roman Catholic chaplains in the First World War) at UCLAN and is awaiting his viva voce for a doctorate completed as a collaborative doctoral award (on war disability and philanthropy) between Lancaster University and the Westfield War Memorial Village. He has fronted the modern folk trio Harp and a Monkey for 10 years.
Lucie Whitmore, a PhD student at the University of Glasgow, co-founder of War Through Other Stuff, and member of the First World War Network, has kindly provided this review of our Research and Teaching Workshop, which took place last month at the University of Sheffield. The First World War Network are hard at work planning our next event now, and would love to hear your thoughts on what kind of specialist training and discussion YOU would like to see us provide. Join us by visiting the link below and completing our introductory questionnaire, and keep up with all the latest news by following us on Twitter @FwwNetwork:
Many thanks to Lucie for sharing her thoughts with us!
On July 18th, the First World War Network held their latest event at the University of Sheffield; a teaching and research workshop for postgraduates and early career researchers working on projects related to the First World War. I travelled down from Edinburgh for the event, and I’m so glad I braved the eight-hour round trip as the workshop proved not only to be incredibly helpful, but also a lovely opportunity to put faces to names and connect with other researchers.
The day started with a three-minute summary of research from every attendee, meaning that by the end of the first session we had a good idea of who everyone was and what they were working on. (Isn’t it nice at the end of a conference when you finally get a sense of all the different skills and interests in the room? This was like that – except at the start of the day, hooray!) While many of the attendees were PhD students like me, a good range of disciplines and backgrounds were also represented, and the chance to ask each other questions about our projects and experiences was very welcomed by all. A couple of projects discussed in this session with an online presence include:
After a nice long lunch break and a chance to chat with other attendees, we moved on to a session on teaching the First World War. Professor Alison Fell and Dr Chris Phillips led this session, with the aim to help us construct First World War-related teaching modules for undergraduate students. I have never done undergraduate teaching so I found all aspects of this session incredibly useful, with the First World War subject matter a bonus! By the end of this session we had all constructed teaching modules in small groups which we presented to the rest of the room. (I hope the ‘Dressing the First World War’ module Jenny Roberts and I designed comes to fruition one day!) One thing that I particularly liked about the teaching session was the reminder that there are infinite approaches we can take to the study and teaching of the history of war, as demonstrated by the great variety of ideas that were being discussed around the room.
The last session was led by Dr Matthew Ford, founder and editor-in-chief of the British Journal for Military History, and Dr Martin Hurcombe, co-editor of the Journal of War and Culture Studies. In this session, we all learned a huge amount about the journal publishing process, and particularly the kinds of decisions editors make about the content they publish. Both Matthew and Martin were very generous in sharing stories and advice from their quite different careers as journal editors. A few key pointers that I noted down from this session were:
When submitting an article to a journal make sure you have read their ‘house rules’. If you have not included all the information they require, or your article is in the wrong format, it could be rejected for those reasons alone.
Similarly, make sure you have fully understood the remit of the journal. Don’t waste time submitting articles that may not be within their scope and interest.
Editors are not interested in articles that simply ‘describe’. If you find some brilliant source material, do something with it!
When submitting to a journal, make sure you explain why your research matters.
If editors come back to you with lots of feedback after peer review, or you go through multiple rounds of peer-reviewing, this probably means they really want to submit your work. They are giving you everything you need to get the work published because they see the potential in you and your work.
If you get a rejection or bad feedback, try putting it out of your mind for a few days and come back to it with a little distance. It may be easier to digest!
The day ended with a quick visit to the pub before we all jumped back onto our trains home. My main take away from the workshop was how helpful it had been to attend an academic event which incorporated really practical, helpful sessions as well as the chance to share research ideas. As PhD students we are (usually) given training of sorts from our universities, but it is not usually as focused or specialist as this. I certainly feel far better equipped to design a teaching module or submit a journal article, and I very much look forward to seeing what the First World War Network will be teaching us next!
Lucie Whitmore is a final year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, researching women’s fashion in the First World War. She is the co-founder of ‘War Through Other Stuff’, and will be co-editing a special themed issue of the British Journal for Military History.
Registration for our Research and Teaching Workshop, taking place at the University of Sheffield on Tuesday 18th July, will close tomorrow at 12pm. We still have a very limited number of spaces available for anyone keen to participate in the event, which will feature contributions from:
Professor Alison Fell, Professor of French Cultural History at the University of Leeds
Dr Matthew Ford, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sussex and Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal for Military History
Dr Martin Hurcombe, Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Bristol and Co-Editor of the Journal of War and Culture Studies
Dr Christopher Phillips, Lecturer in History at Leeds Trinity University
Attendance is free to all First World War Network members, and travel bursaries are available. To book your place, please email email@example.com, using ‘Research and Teaching Workshop’ as the subject line.
1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War is an English-language online reference work on World War I dedicated to publishing high quality peer-reviewed content. Each article in the encyclopedia is a self-contained publication and its author receives full recognition. All articles receive a distinct URL address as well as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and are fully citable as scholarly publications. 1914-1918-online is an open access publication, which means that all articles are freely available online, ensuring maximum worldwide dissemination of content. FWWNetwork’s own Christopher Phillips has recently contributed an article, and thoroughly recommends the 1914-1918-online team for their professionalism and support throughout the submission process.
The editors invite academics to contribute articles on a select number of topics not yet covered by our invitation-only editorial process. Authors who are interested in submitting a paper on any of the subjects listed should submit a short CV with a publication list, as well as an abstract (max. 250 words) or a full-length paper.
FWW Network member Mike Hally, PhD doctoral candidate, Centre for the Study of Modern Conflict, University of Edinburgh, shares some insights after the recent ‘What Tommy Did Next’ symposium, including his hopes for the FWW Network to ‘join-up’ researchers working on parallel areas of First World War history (but often in complete ignorance of one another).
As with other conferences in the last year or so, we were all struck by the range and diversity of original research being carried out on the First World War and its aftermath – but also by how much we didn’t know about this work until we got people together. It does seem that lots of people are carrying out fascinating new research, much of it based on new sources, yet often without knowing about others’ work in related fields. I certainly include my own studies into the origins of the veterans’ groups that preceded the British Legion within this observation.
So it was great that our event also saw the UK launch of the FWW Network, which is much-needed as a way of joining up all these research projects and connecting all the people doing them. After Jay Winter gave a characteristically deep and thought-provoking Keynote Address on ‘the Silences of the Men Who Served’, the stage was set for the steering committee of Oliver, Chris, Philippa, and David, alongside Sarah Lloyd from the Everyday Lives in War engagement centre, to set out the case for the Network and what it hopes to achieve, plus the welcome news that, because it has AHRC funding, no-one will need to pay a membership fee!
By the end of the day it was very clear that most of the people there want to stay in contact, and the FWW Network will be the means by which that can be achieved. I’m looking forward to that happening and continuing to grow the contacts initiated that day. Perhaps an early task for the network will be to compile a searchable database of all these studies, the people working on them, keywords, related resources and so on?
Committee member Oliver Wilkinson responds: A key aim of the FWW Network is certainly to try to connect ECRs and PGRs working on the First World War. Therein we are currently looking at how to best us our website via a member’s section. We will certainly take on-board Mike’s suggestions of keywords and tags!
This post, written by FWW Network founder member Dr Oli Wilkinson, originally appeared on the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities website. You can take a look at it by clicking this link.
One of the final things I did before submitting my PhD thesis was the ‘Acknowledgments’ section. The exercise enabled me to reflect upon my PhD journey and, as I termed it, to think about the challenges it had thrown at me. I thought this a clever reference to the title, ‘Challenging Captivity’, and themes of my doctorate, which had explored the challenges confronting captured British servicemen during the First World War and the strategies adopted by POWs in response. In that vein, I took the opportunity to identify the people and supports that had helped me rise to the challenge of the PhD.
One vital resource to me had been the thriving History Postgraduate Community at Lancaster University, of which I had been an active member, and which had aided in the development of my intellectual ideas, and providing opportunities to develop ‘career’ skills, via things like a postgraduate seminar series and an annual PGR led conference (Histfest). It has also provided friendships and informal support, opportunities for a beer and a moan in the bar, and countless off-the-cuff chats initiated by the question: ‘how’s it going?’. In these ways I could raise problems I was facing (the pressures to write; the demands of supervisors; research problems; upgrades; deadlines; teaching responsibilities), learning from the experiences of others who had dealt with those same issues. Moreover, my experience would seem to be a common one. Whilst perusing the ‘Acknowledgment’ sections of monographs, especially those books born from doctoral research, I have often seen authors similarly thank ‘their’ post-graduate communities. An active, supportive, network of PGRs would thus seem to be a good thing to help you deal the challenges that a PhD throws at you.
But what about post-completion? This context brings a raft of new challenges for the Early Career Researcher, especially one wishing to pursue an academic career. Nobody reading this post will be surprised to hear that the job market for positions in UK institutions is tough. The recently completed scholar quickly learns that it is not enough just to have a PhD. Indeed, any budding academic must fulfil a host of other requirements if they hope to gain ‘entry’ into the sector: a REF-able publication record; evidence of successful external funding bids; a proven ability of building IMPACT into your research activities; experience in working collaboratively with non-academic partners; a track record of teaching.
Yet, part of what makes the situation so tough is that the ECR must respond precisely at the point when they lose many of the props that had supported them during their PhD. Notable is the loss of a formal institutional affiliation. Commonly, that anchor is replaced by the insecurity of temporary, contracted, teaching posts, which do not hold the same advantages in terms of research support as permanent staff members (or as PhD students for that matter). Perversely, the lack of institutional affiliation impacts on your ability to gain the very things vital to getting a permanent post, such as your eligibility to apply for research funding or to gain experience in such things as co-designed/co-produced projects with non-academic partners. Indeed, without the security, support and resources of an institution, and without ongoing supervision or mentorship, it is difficult to know where you would start with such projects or how you could practically undertake one anyway.
The new national First World War Network for Early Career and Postgraduate Researchers (FWW Network), launching in Edinburgh on 18 March 2017, has been designed with the challenges facing current PGRs and ECRs in mind. It has been created by PGRs and recently completed ECRs, and it strives to be a supportive network for this community. In many ways, it is in the spirit of those post-graduate communities active in many universities. Yet, it is not tied to any one institution and, crucially, it extends its benefits into that post-completion context. It can do so because it is AHRC funded and backed by the practical supports of the five First World War Engagement Centres. Best of all its FREE to join for PGRs or ECRs working on any aspect of the First World War. Its core aim is to bring together researchers from across the country, providing a forum for members to promote their research interests, activities, and outputs. The hope is that by connecting scholars will foster research collaborations between members working on parallel topics and themes.
In addition, the network will offer formal supports and funding opportunities. These include the provision of relevant workshops and training opportunities. Here, the steering committee is actively seeking input from its membership to ascertain what sorts of training would be most useful. ‘Responsiveness’ is a watch-word for the venture; working with and for ECRs and PGRs. Moreover, in a reaction to the concerns of the current research context, the network seeks to provide opportunities for its members to get involved with collaborative research, thereby developing the research capacity (and employability) of our members. To these ends, we will help to link members with non-academic partners, act as a conduit to the supports offered by the Engagement Centres (including practical supports of space, resources, and mentorship), and provide seed-funds to assist ECRs wishing to undertake their own collaborative research project.
So if you are a PGR who is working on the First World War, or an ECR with a research interest in the field, then the FWW Network is for you. If you are based in Scotland why not come along to our launch on the on the 18th March, at the University of Edinburgh, as part of the PGR led symposium ‘What Tommy Did Next’ (http://www.what-tommy-did-next.org.uk/)? Registration for that event is still open and we would love to see you there. If you can’t make it, then follow-us on Twitter (@FwwNetwork), send us an email requesting to join (firstname.lastname@example.org), and be part of a new, supportive community for the next generation of leading First World War scholars!