Preparations are ongoing for our upcoming conference at Edinburgh Napier University, and we are delighted to share details of a workshop taking place on Friday afternoon, to which all our delegates are warmly invited. Ian Isherwood, R.C. Miessler, and Amy Lucadamo from Gettysburg College will be sharing their experiences of working on a digital project linked to the First World War letters of Hugh John Chevallier Peirs (better known as Jack). You can visit the website by following the link below:
In ‘The Great War and the Digital Humanities: Creating a project and building a team’, they will provide attendees with insights into the creation of a digital history project, consider engagement with a range of stakeholders, and answer questions from our delegates.
Ian Isherwood introduces the workshop:
“The centennial of the First World War has provided ample opportunities for historians to engage with broader audiences on the subject of war. In 2014, conscious of the challenges that teaching the First World War presents for educators at all levels, a small team at Gettysburg College (Pennsylvania, USA) began digitizing an archival resource and made it available to the public without an institutional mandate or dedicated funding. The First World War Letters of H.J.C. Peirs: A Digital History website began as a mechanism for publishing the correspondence of a British officer 100 years to the day they were written. However, as the team embraced the methodologies of the Digital Humanities, worked collaboratively on creative technological innovations, and discovered new avenues for combining archival and digital pedagogy into the classroom experience, the Peirs project grew into a pedagogy-focused, archives-based digital project that serves as an example of boundary-crossing, team-based Digital Humanities efforts. Through the framework of the Peirs project, this workshop will give guidance for team-building and project management, provide examples of Digital Humanities tools and methods that can be used with First World War collections, and outline pedagogical uses for digital history in the classroom.”
All attendees to ‘The First World War: Past, Present, and Future’ are warmly invited to join us at this fascinating workshop, and will have the chance to speak to the team behind Jack’s letters. Tickets are currently available to members of our mailing list, and the full programme can be viewed by clicking on the link below:
The First World War Network is delighted to announce that, following an incredibly competitive and difficult selection process, the organising committee behind ‘The First World War: Past, Present, and Future’ are able to publish the first details of the speakers and panels that will provide the platform for discussions at our upcoming conference.
We are proud to present a series of papers that cover the breadth of work within the field of First World War studies, from a range of speakers. Alongside established academics, the programme for ‘The First World War: Past, Present, and Future’ provides opportunities for postgraduate students, early career researchers, museum and heritage professionals, and independent scholars from across the world to showcase their research.
The topics that will be addressed over the course of this conference emphasise the diversity of research interests within the field at the end of the centenary period, and illustrate the local and global legacies of the First World War as a historical event.
The programme of intended speakers can be viewed in full by following the link below:
We are greatly looking forward to welcoming you all to Edinburgh Napier in June, and will be making further announcements about the event in due course. For all the latest information, make sure to follow the First World War Network on Twitter: @FwwNetwork
Tom Thorpe, a First World War Network member and the presenter and producer of the Western Front Association’s ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ podcast, is looking for new contributors.
The WFA is a national UK charity dedicated to furthering interest in the Great War through commemoration, education and discussion. It has over 60 branches and 6,000 members worldwide (https://www.westernfrontassociation.com/). The WFA is a non-political organisation and does not seek to glorify war but perpetuate the memory, courage and comradeship of all those on all sides who served their countries in France and Flanders, and their own countries, during the Great War.
Mention in Dispatches started in February 2017, and has produced around 90 programmes to date with a combined total of 104,000 downloads. Each weekly programme gets around 1,000 hits. The back catalogue is available on iTunes, Castbox and Acast (https://www.acast.com/mentionedindispatches). The podcast has covered a diverse range of subjects from widows, nannies and animals in the Great War to battles, leaders and revolutionaries. It has featured a wide range of historians, academics and community projects.
Tom would be delighted to hear from anyone who may want to do an interview to promote some research, a book or just share their scholarship with a wider audience. We greatly encourage our members to contact him on email@example.com
We look forward to hearing more about your work soon!
Edinburgh Napier University, Craiglockhart Campus: 27-28 June 2019
In the wake of the centenary of the First World War, The First World War Network seeks to build upon the success of its inaugural event at IWM North in February 2016 by reflecting upon the first century of First World War history, celebrating current, pioneering research into all areas of the conflict, and producing an ambitious, transnational framework for the future direction of scholarship on the twentieth century’s first global conflagration.
The organisers welcome contributions that examine the local, regional, national, and international dimensions of First World War history, that provide diverse and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the conflict, and/or that emphasise the war’s multiple legacies and impacts. We aim to bring together the latest in academic scholarship with participation from heritage agencies, libraries, museums, archives, community groups, individual researchers and all those with a shared desire to sustain interest in furthering knowledge and understanding of this seminal event. Alongside a range of traditional presentations, the conference will include poster presentations and roundtable discussions on the future of First World War studies with participants drawn from across the academic and public sphere.
Abstracts for individual twenty-minute papers, panels of three connected papers, and posters which focus upon any aspect of the past and present of First World War studies are invited. Suggested themes may include, but are not limited to:
The conduct of the war
The politics of the war
Wounding and its aftermath
Cultural responses to the war
Uses of the war
Gendered aspects of warfare
Local, regional, national or international responses
Myth and memory
Understanding/coping with death
The working language of the conference will be English. Abstracts of 250 words should be accompanied by your name, institutional/organisational affiliation (if any), and a biographical statement of up to 100 words. Submissions for complete panels should also include a statement of up to 250 words outlining the relationship between the individual papers. A ‘flash presentation’ session will take place during the conference, in which poster displayers can introduce and discuss the research behind their displays.
To download this call for dissemination around your networks (which we would be very grateful for!), please click here.
We wish to encourage submissions from academics, students, institutions, organisations, independent researchers, and community groups. In line with our mission to encourage and support postgraduate students and early career researchers, a number of bursaries will be available to individuals who fall into this category to assist their attendance at the conference. In addition, the First World War Network will be coordinating opportunities for postgraduate students and early career researchers who participate in the conference to engage in a peer mentoring scheme. Please indicate upon your submission if you wish to be considered for a bursary and/or the peer mentoring scheme.
The deadline for submissions will be: 14 December 2018
The organising committee aim to notify all applicants of their decision by 1 February 2019.
Located to the south-west of the Scottish capital, the Craiglockhart campus of Edinburgh Napier University possesses a famous link to the First World War. The campus, commandeered for use as a military hospital for the treatment of shell-shocked officers, provided both the location for the first meeting between the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and the site upon which Dr William H. Rivers made significant advances in psychiatric treatment. The campus is now home to the War Poets Collection, a tribute to Sassoon, Owen, and their contemporaries whose words have provided a significant and lasting effect upon the public memory of the conflict.
A permanent exhibition allows visitors to view the collection, and gain an insight into the personal and social experiences of war through the words, memories, voices and objects that the officers, medical staff and relatives of those associated with Craiglockhart Military Hospital left behind.
The First World War Network is delighted to be able to share the details of this upcoming conference, hosted by Big Ideas, the London Centre for Public History, and the Institute for Historical Research. Alongside presentations from a number of our members across two days of the conference, delegates are invited to attend two free public events on the evenings of 5 and 6 September.
On 5 September, Professor Susan Grayzel will provide a keynote lecture on the topic of ‘National Service, Personal Sacrifice: The Cultural Politics of Mourning Mothers during and after the First World War’. On 6 September, the award-winning composer Clare Connors will lead an evening of music and readings exploring the experiences of mothers bereaved during the First World War.
Attendance at these public events is free, but tickets must be booked through the following links:
Are you a Community Researcher Engaging with Trauma Narratives as part of your First World War Centenary Project?
Professor Nigel Hunt and Dr Larissa Allwork at the University of Nottingham have been awarded AHRC funding to explore the extent to which the psychological condition of trauma has been integrated into community engagement with the First World War centenary. Trauma here is being incorporated broadly to encompass a range of responses to the 1914-1918 conflict. From shell shocked soldiers recovering in specialist hospitals to cases of ‘barbed wire disease’ in ‘enemy alien’ internment camps; and from post-1918 literary and poetic representations of trauma to the contemporary family historian dealing with issues of transferential trauma in the archive. As part of their project, Nigel and Larissa want to get in touch with any Heritage Lottery Funded and/or AHRC First World War Engagement Centre community history projects that are engaging with narratives of trauma as part of their research.
Over the course of the centenary, community partners have expressed an interest in examining the human impact of the war and have looked to the First World War Engagement Centres to support them in doing so. Several participants in engagement activities have remarked that any understanding of the events of the war is inadequate without comprehending its traumatic effects. The difference between historical and contemporary perspectives on mental and emotional trauma presents a challenge to community researchers as it requires an understanding of how such trauma was regarded, described and recorded in historical records. An additional challenge is presented by the emotional impact on the researcher who examines potentially disturbing and upsetting material. This challenge is often felt more keenly by researchers who investigate people with whom they have a direct connection, such as members of their family or community.
Nigel and Larissa’s project is intended to equip community partners from across the First World War Engagement Centres with the skills and support to meet these challenges and to ensure that this crucial perspective on First World War history is not omitted from the programme. As part of their project, Nigel and Larissa will be holding a series of public workshops across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for community groups on the topic of war trauma, with specific reference to the First World War and its aftermath.
Nigel and Larissa are keen to get in contact with any Heritage Lottery Funded and/or AHRC First World War Engagement Centre community history projects that are engaging with issues of trauma as part of their research. This means that Nigel and Larissa are interested in community history projects that might include topics such as:
Autobiographical narratives by soldiers on the front line who suffered from shell shock.
Autobiographical narratives by civilians who suffered from shell shock.
Observations on shell shock by First World War era doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists.
Observations on shell shock in First World War era local and national newspapers.
Observations on reintegrating traumatised veterans into communities, both during and after WWI.
Literary representations of shell shock (eg. Rebecca West, Pat Barker etc.)
Documentary film or television representations of shell shock (eg. ‘War Neuroses’ etc.)
Dramatic film or television representations of shell shock (eg. ‘King and Country’ etc.)
Encounters with trauma narratives through family history research (eg. discovered a relative with shell shock).
Encounters with ‘Barbed Wire’ disease as a result of research into the British ‘enemy alien’ internment camps.
Encounters with narratives of trauma associated with histories of migration and displacement.
Nigel and Larissa would like to hear from Heritage Lottery Fund and/or First World War Engagement Centre researchers looking at these themes because they:
Want to understand how much community research is being done in relation to trauma and the First World War.
Aim to understand the needs of community researchers in relation to this subject area.
Desire to compile a list of groups who would be interested in a workshop on trauma and the First World War, to run in either autumn 2018 or spring 2019.
If you are engaged with narratives of trauma as part of your First World War centenary community research project, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LarissaAllwork
Professor Nigel Hunt and Dr Larissa Allwork are part of the AHRC Centre for Hidden Histories, based at the University of Nottingham. The Centre for Hidden Histories is associated with the AHRC First World War Engagement Centres. The Centre for Hidden Histories has a particular interest in the themes of migration and displacement, the experience of ‘others’ from countries and regions within Europe, Asia and the Commonwealth, the impact and subsequent legacies of the war on diverse communities within Britain, remembrance and commemoration.
The First World War Network is pleased to offer its members the opportunity to apply for a Collaborative Research Grant of up to £1000 to help fund a project with a group, individual or organisation from the general public or the heritage sector.
In 2018 there will be two deadlines for applications: 15th June and 31st August.
For full applicant instructions and to apply, please download the application form below:
The event will spotlight the latest research on the events of 1918 as well as the global significances, consequences, and legacy of this watershed year. It brings international perspectives and encompasses a wide range of historical approaches as well as cross-disciplinary insights. To do so it will include seven keynote addresses from some of the leading academic authorities on the First World War and its aftermath, along with over sixty speakers in themed panel sessions. It will also include a roundtable discussion based on the theme of: ‘A Hundred Years of Teaching, Learning & Understanding the First World War: Where are we now?’
The event has been developed collaboratively with heritage agencies, museums, art galleries, funders, schools and community groups involved in First World War research, remembrance and events.
Michael Noble is a PhD researcher based at the University of Nottingham. Since 2014 he has been the project co-ordinator at the Centre for Hidden Histories.
This post is based on January’s FWW network workshop, which took place at the University of Nottingham, and which had as its theme, Public Engagement in Research. It is a timely topic, given the launch of the FWW Network Collaborative Research Grant Scheme, but also a broad one. Any blog post that attempted to cover every aspect of academic public engagement would be doomed to failure. With that in mind, I intend to break it down into sub-topics. Later posts will address subjects such as developing a co-production project, navigating university administration systems and avoiding the ‘exploitation of goodwill’. If there are any other aspects of academic public engagement that you would like to see on this blog, please leave a note in the comments below or contact me on Twitter.
For now, I will concentrate on the fundamentals of public engagement; why is it important and how a researcher might go about establishing productive relationships with non-university partners.
With a particular focus on co-production, this first post is aimed at giving readers an insight into some of the methods for making this sort of collaboration a success. It is based on my experiences of brokering and managing university-community collaborations, supported by the Centre for Hidden Histories between 2014 and 2017.
The post is in two sections. The first attempts a (necessarily) loose definition of co-production and outlines its current importance in academic research. The second provides advice on forming productive relationships with non-university partners.
Co-production and academia
Public engagement is a broad, and ever more important topic. It has huge potential for research impact and significant relevance to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).[i] With the new Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) now in development, we can expect the concept to be around for some time to come and for public engagement to continue to be a core aspect of the academic’s work.
Researchers have described a ‘participatory turn’ through which traditional forms of knowledge transfer (whereby academics ‘transmit’ their research to non-academic audiences) evolved firstly into knowledge exchange (academics transmit research and receive non-academic knowledge and understanding in return) and more recently into full co-production (the academic and non-academic engage in fully collaborative activity).
In practical terms, it usually means an academic researcher and a non-academic partner coming together to collaborate on a research project for which they both take responsibility for completing. They share equally in its success.
Here are some examples:
An academic researcher collaborated with the parish council of a small Cheshire village to research the WW1 internment camp that had been established in (and since completely erased from) the village. They worked together to uncover evidence and collaborated on a public exhibition to share their findings.
This type of collaboration is still relatively new and there is little in the way of formal definition. Although there is a small literature on the topic, much of it is concerned with co-production in the public policy arena. However, whenever I have been asked what I mean by co-production, (it was a frequent question posed by people making applications to the co-production grant fund that I managed) I have said that it is the shared responsibility that makes it distinctive as ‘co-production’ rather than simple knowledge transfer or knowledge exchange.
Simply put, if either of the partners was to cease participating, the project itself would fail.
It is an incredibly rewarding approach to public engagement and, done properly, can yield greater benefits than ‘traditional’ research approaches. It can provide researchers with access to ideas and information, to resources and to insights that are otherwise not available as mainstream sources. Furthermore, it recognises the value of the individuals and communities in research and opens the gates of the academy a little bit further.
However, for it to work effectively, it is crucial that a solid relationship exists between the partners.
Building an effective relationship with a non-university partner
First, some advice. You, the researcher, should take ownership of your community relationships. Think of them as a personal asset and an aspect of your portfolio. Consider them in parallel with your publication record. Maintain them, transfer them, develop them. Own them.
Working relationships with non-university partners are valuable, even if they don’t all lead to collaborative projects. A network of contacts in heritage organisations, local authorities and the third sector can provide the researcher with access to information and knowledge that hasn’t reached the academy, or is unavailable in established archives. I have worked with non-university partners who, for example, possess private collections of historical documents, such as photographs and letters, or are members of a minority community that is of historical interest to researchers. These groups have been able to share their resources and knowledge and the ensuing relationships have been of immense value to both parties.
OK, so where do we start? How does a researcher build a relationship with a non-academic partner?
What is a non-academic partner?
It can be difficult to come up with a single definitional outline that covers all of the types of organisation with which you may collaborate as a researcher. They may be publicly funded organisations, charities, clubs or voluntary societies or even commercial organisations. The particular type will depend to a large extent on the nature of your research and you may also find that your funder has strict rules about which type of organisation you may collaborate with, particularly if some of the funding will be shared with the partner.
The type (and size) of the organisation is also somewhat important. For some organisations, the project will be a single activity among many that they do. An example would be a school that sets up a small group of pupils to take part in a project. For others, the project is the group; it is the reason that the group was established or represents the total current workload of the organisation. An example would be a local history group that has been established to commemorate a significant anniversary event.
The question of size and focus is important for your relationship -it will effect how largely you feature in their plans and whether the group has to balance its work on the project against other demands on its time. It may also have an impact on how ‘professional’ or ‘personal’ your partner regards their work and this will set the tone for your relationship. For instance, a school may have stricter finance rules but will be more dispassionate about the finances than a small network of local householders who have formed a project group and who are largely self-financed.
The most important element of this phase is the building of the relationship. There are some barriers to a successful university-community partnership and in some ways, it’s easier to provide a guide to success by describing these barriers and suggesting ways through them.
On the community side, you will find that some individuals and organisations have a mistrust or suspicion of universities or otherwise feel that they are not suited to collaborative work of this nature. In my experience, the underlying reasons for this fall into three main categories.
The partner feels proprietorial about their work/project/sources and fear that the university is going to come in and take over, or dominate the project to their exclusion.
Imposter syndrome. The partner worries that their work is of minor importance or that they are not qualified to carry out the project. They convince themselves that the university is mistaken in taking an interest and worry that they will be ‘found out’ before long.
Some potential partners have a mistrust of the state. They may come from a culture or society in which having the government (including state-supported institutions such as HEIs) taking an interest in you is something to be feared.
It takes time and effort to overcome these worries. It can be challenging and frustrating but it is worth pursuing and there are methods that you can use to put your new contact at ease.
Try to identify the reasons for the barrier. Don’t push (unless you feel it’s worth pursuing the reasons) but it might help when you come to offer reassurance as it can help you to have an open and constructive conversation.
Explain to your new partner what is in it for you. They may believe that you’re ultimately trying to snatch their historical collection of correspondence, while you’re sitting there mentally working out the impact factor that this it is worth to you. The best co-produced projects are ones in which each partner has a distinctive, but mutually dependent goal. It’s best to be honest about your goals from the outset.
Make yourself useful early on. This might be by sending them some formal research that you have discovered or forwarding them a relevant news article that triggers a conversation. As I’ve developed my own network, I’ve found that brokering a second relationship can be useful. One new contact of mine wanted to work with the Imperial War Museum. I was able to personally introduce them to the relevant person at IWM. This established my credentials and catalysed my relationship with the new partner.
Where possible, go to see the new contact in person. This can be tricky to manage with costs/time but it is well worth doing if you can. It’s always helpful to meet in a relaxed environment. My preference is always to suggest meeting in a coffee shop. They’re easy to find, usually conducive to quiet chat and offer an environment that sets people at their ease. Remember, you’re looking to develop a friendship. Find other topics to discuss and have a laugh with your new partner.
Throughout this, be aware of the timeframe. If you’re developing a project idea with a new partner, you will need to factor in the relationship building to the development time. This may take several months, and it may not be appropriate to write a formal proposal until after you have established the basis of a working relationship. It is for this reason that I suggest building a network as you develop your career and before you even have a project idea in mind. Some of the best projects I have seen have been developed by partners who have had a long-standing relationship and who created their project jointly.
Remember, the relationship is the most valuable product of all this effort. Even if you don’t succeed in launching a project, continue to nurture the relationship -other project ideas will come. The drive for co-production isn’t going to go away and, as a researcher with a rich network of non-university partners, you will be in the best position to meet its unique demands.
[i] [i] According to figures prepared by NCCPE, nearly half of REF2014 submissions cited public engagement as part of the path to impact.
The First World War Network is proud to be organising a one-day workshop on Saturday 24 March at the University of Hertfordshire alongside our colleagues and friends at War Through Other Stuff and the Everyday Lives in War AHRC First World War Public Engagement Centre.
Witnessing War has been scheduled to coincide with the University of Hertfordshire’s display of Beyond the Battlefields, an exhibition of photographs taken by the German photographer Käthe Buchler during the First World War. The workshop will include a series of talks from both academic researchers and those that have experienced conflict at first hand. There will also be an activity centering on Käthe Buchler’s photographs, giving participants the chance to interact with and respond to the images.
A full programme will be released shortly along with registration details. Attendance for First World War Network members at this fascinating event will, of course, be FREE, and travel bursaries will be available.
Joining the First World War Network is free. To join our rapidly expanding network of First World War researchers from a range of backgrounds, please see our ‘How to join’ page or click HERE.
Keep your eyes peeled here and on Twitter for further announcements!