Monday, November 28, 2005

Bibliography: WWI Conscientious Objectors

Here is Kirsty's helpful presentation bibliography on conscientious objectors.

Anyone who has material from their class presentation that they would be willing to have blogged, please email it along.

Works Cited and Referenced
Conscientious Objection: <>.
Conscientious Objectors: <>.
Cruttwell, C.R.M.F. A History of the Great War 1914-1918. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1964. p.238.
Edmonds, Brigadier-General Sir James E. compiled. A Short History of World War One. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968. p.24.
First World – Encyclopedia – U.K. Military Service Act:>.
First World – Encyclopedia – Conscientious Objectors:>.
Hart, B.H. Liddell. History of the First World War. London: Cassell and Co. Ltd., 1970. p.269.
Hayes, Carlton J.H. A Brief History of the Great War. New York: The MacMillain Co., 1929. pp.147, 310.

Sunday, November 27, 2005 and Scholarly Research - Caution

Further emphasis for my stricture that internet search engines, including, should only be used as part of academic research only when you already possess expertise on the subject area in question is provided by a google search on Diana Mosley. The first result in the search is an link to an hagiographic article on -- which only an educated few will know to be the website of a Fascist front.

Update: Re. Wikipedia, see this NYT article on "Rewriting History: Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar."

Oswald Mosley & "The Futurist Manifesto."

The cranks who continue Mosley's fringe cult have (of course) a website, and appropriately it contains F.T. Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto -- one of the targets of Evelyn Waugh's satire in the text of Vile Bodies.

This supports the caution given repeatedly now in lecture that particular care is needed when making moral attributions of British individuals and their social and political systems, due to the uneven and deceptive way that the views of Edwardian individuals and the social systems that they manifest map onto our own political categories and assumptions. We have seen this, of course, in examples such as opposition to Free Trade coming from the Tory position exemplified by Madox Ford's character Christopher Tietjens in Parade's End

Diana Mitford-Guiness-Mosley

Careful step is needed through biographical sewage, and the prophylactic scholarship only just keeps back the diseased vapour.

From a succinct and comprehensive article in the online Telegraph at the death of the odious Hitlerite Diana Mosley:
One of the funny, charming, intelligent and glamorous Mitford sisters; a denizen of the "Hons' cupboard''; a dedicatee of Vile Bodies; a beautiful woman whom Churchill called "Dinamite''; an inspired interior decorator; a steadfast friend to a wide galère (including some Jews); a fine autobiographer and loving mother; yet Diana Mosley was also a woman who could - when she was inadvisedly invited to appear on Desert Island Discs - describe Adolf Hitler in almost wholly positive terms.
When Evelyn Waugh dedicated Vile Bodies to Bryan and Diana Guinness, the future Lady Mosely was still married to the likeable Guinness heir -- later a novelist, playwrite and poet -- and one of society's belles. This was a decade before she would abandon the future 2nd Baron Moyne and, in Joseph Goebbels' front room with Adolf Hitler the Best Man, marry Sir Oswald Mosley; founder and head of the British Union of Fascists; ordinary hero and wounded veteran of the Trenches; buffoon; sycophant; imitator; rank traitor who would have been shot had he not been English and thus forced to suffer, for him, fate worse than death -- his countrymen's derisory farce, ridicule, mockery and lampoon (indeed, imortalised in ignomy by the Master, P.G. Wodehouse.)

Poetry this Week

I addition to Vile Bodies this week, we be reading through some female poets in our Penguin First World War anthology: Alice Meynell, May Wedderburn Cannan, Charlotte Mew, Margaret Postgate Cole & Mina Loy.

Next week (our final class) will consider Herbert Read's astonishing "The End of a War" along with several of the translated German War poets from Georg Heym on p.238 to Yval Goll to p.255

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Group Blogs

We'll use this post as a place to broadcast our class' group blog URLs. Now that everyone is confident about what they are doing, no-one will mind others scoping their blog.

When you do visit another group's blog, why not leave them a comment to say you've been, and any compliments and suggestions that you may have. That would be blogosphere synergy: an aggregate of individuals improving the quality of the larger system.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Evelyn Waugh on the BBC

The BBC has a selections from an excellent 1960 radio interview with Evelyn Waugh, online here.

Of Mrs. Melrose Ape

For a winningly burlesque website on all things Aimee Semple McPherson, the original of Evelyn [pronounced Eve-elyn] Waugh's parodic creation Mrs. Melrose Ape, click here. The original, by the bye, was Canadian-born ....

Friday, November 18, 2005

Group Project Workshop

In our third hour this coming Monday we will move to the Assignment Lab in the W.A.C. Bennett Library, room 2105, for a workshop on your Group Project and on related library research methods. I will be available to answer questions, give advice on blogging, and examine and critique your progress to date.

Here is a link or three to some blogging of mine on How to Blog Effectively.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Final Essay

I will blog three specific topics for the term Paper tomorrow once I finalise them. The essay is to be thirty-five hundred words long, the topics are all related to lecture and seminar discussion on the course texts, and I will extend the due date by four days to Friday December 9th at midnight in my Department mailbox. That way I feel sanguine about applying the late penalty of three percent per day with full rigour: for example, a paper handed in on Monday will lose nine percent of the paper grade - effectively, a letter grade.

  1. Sorrows of Satan and The General can be said to account for Britain's conduct, if not very participation, in World War One as being consequent upon certain prevalent social facts. Incorporating one of the poems studied in class into your analysis, explain with express reference to lecture and seminar discussion how Marie Corelli and C.S. Forester transmuted this idea into literature.
  2. Parade's End and Jacob's Room are historically significant works in the construction of literary Modernism. Both books incorporate new and varied techniques of fiction in an attempt to speak the unspeakable -- the effects of World War One on its survivors. Using one or more of the poems discussed in class as counter-text, elaborate upon your specific contributions to seminar discussions either for or against the success and aesthetic appeal of the Modernist project that Virginia Woolf and Ford Madox Ford set for themselves.
  3. Pat Barker makes the point in her Regeneration trilogy that the First World War can be understood as a traditionally British masculine affair gone cruelly wrong, as the rush to manly adventure became in the trenches four wasting years of, in her words, "feminine passivity." Using the particular facts of biography presented in lecture, discuss how the lives and personalities of Marie Corelli and Virginia Woolf influenced their distinctly female fictions in relation to the Great War.
  4. Shell shock has been a recurrring theme in our course engagement with the fiction of World War One. Limiting your argument to ideas raised in class, explain how Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies engages shell shock, with one other course novel and any of the course poetry used as counter-point in your literary analysis.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mid-Term Papers

Now that you have your mid-term essays graded and returned, let me encourage you to spend a couple of days going over the comments, reflecting on them, reavaluating your work in light of the specific corrections and analysis, and coming to a decision about your estimation of the grade. If you should determine that he grade does not accurately take into account all aspects of your scholarly essay, or if you wish to have the written comments deciphered, then stop by an Office Hour with your essay for discussion.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembrance in Britain: the BBC

The BBC's "Remembrance" webpage is here.

On the two minutes silence:
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the guns of Europe fell silent. After four years of the most bitter and devastating fighting, The Great War was finally over. The Armistice was signed at 5am in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne, France on November 11, 1918. Six hours later, at 11am, the war ended ....

All locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Uses of Blogs in Academia

An excellent & concise blog entry from EdTechPost detailing "some uses of blogs in education" here. I recommend it highly as an excellent introduction to the ways in which blogging will, to a virtual certainty, become integrated into university practice to the same degree as e-mail, on-line registration, and digitised databases are now.
Click the diagramme below for a full-size version of the author's
matrix of some of the possible uses of blogs in education.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Britain's Poppy Day

To follow-up the query raised in seminar: the British equivalent of Remembrance Day is Poppy Day - so my memory held up well there. It is not a "Statutory Holiday" (i.e. Bank Holidays in Britain,) but rather it is honoured the nearest Sunday with a Church memorial service. This is equivalent to Harvest Festival, which Canadians celebrate as "Thanksgiving Day;" adding a "statutory holiday" that uses the British time of year but the American name.
More cases, by the bye, of Canada creeping steadily away from Britain and toward the United States ....
Nb: in recent years, Britain has introduced a two minutes silence on November 11th, when all offices, government, factories, schools, &c, are encouraged to volutarily observe two minutes silence at 11:00 am in memoriam.

More on War Propaganda

[Ms. McKinnon was good enough to take the trouble to honour my request for elaboration of her piquant polemical parentheses to her academic presentation on British propaganda in support of World War One. She blogs delightfully, thus.]
"This is just a quick blog to cover some of my more personal objections to the use of propaganda during WWI which were not included in the body of my presentation on the 31st of october.
My first frustration with the propaganda machine of the British is that it used some of the most gifted minds of writers and artists to manipulate the British people, particularly young men. Authors such as Bennett, Conan Doyle, and Kipling were sent over to view "real" trench-warfare and lie to their public and I find that disgusting.

My presentation divided propaganda into several categories of my own devising, with which I will list my objections:
  • Peer Pressure: This involved the classic attempt to make any man feel like "less than nothing" by insinuating that he is the only man not man enough to go to war. It invoves degrading men infront of their peers and family and forcing them to support the effort as that is supposedly synonymous with helping friends and family.
  • Backward Notion of Warfare: Many of the propaganda posters of the era said things like "Forward to Victory!" while using antiquated notions of warfare to depict life in the trenches. Men on horses, and knights slaying dragons, were meant to be accurate representations of what war in the trenches would be like. This kind of thinking was what drove generals to murder millions of their own men in mass slaughter while pushing for a "break through". It is what destroyed the youth of multiple nations. It is one of the most
    terrifying instances if misrepresentation in propaganda as the thinking behind it killed millions of innocents.
  • Appeal to British Sympathies and Shame: This category includes visions of 'brave little Belgium' and the "What did you do in the Great War Daddy?" poster. Charity is one of the major Christian values used in Britain, even today, to manipulate the masses. It was used to pull Britain into the war to protect other, weaker nations - with this, I have little problem. Shaming a man into going to war by implying that his children may be ashamed of him later if he does not is a reprehensible act. The sense of pride in a good British workman would not stand up to such attacks, nor would his body to the rapidly fired enemy bullets. What a shameful use of tactics!
  • Demonisation of the Germans: These posters only really bother me because I feel that their influence can still be felt today. In war, it is necessary to demonise the enemy, but in the form of propaganda it is also dangerous as the images are not as easily erased from the human mind as they are torn off walls.

The point is - propaganda did more than help the nation, it bled the nation until there was naught left to bleed. It falsified, to an astonishing degree, the realities of life at the front, and extended the chasm between home and the front itself. Soldiers were coming home to a different world and many found themselves unable to fit in where they had left, and unable to reconcile what they had seen with civilian visions of the war. Shame threatened by pro-war posters mutated into the guilt of war, the guilt of surving...I wonder how many would have held off volunteering, how many more would have lived, how much more life would have been valued...if not for the betrayal of the propaganda office.... "

War Poetry Study

Update: seeing several classfellows today without their Poetry anthology, I've moved this post up. By way of pre-emptive exculpation, I repeated the substance of this post both at the start and at the end of lecture & seminar on October 31st. No smugness intended .......

Update 2: An excellent website "Poetry of the First World War"

Because we lose a week of the term due to the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be working through selections of the Great War poetry from our
Penguin anthology gradually during the remaining weeks of the term.
If you have any favourites from your own reading, please let me know by e-mail & we can enjoy and study them as a class.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Causes" of the First World War

As argued in lecture, there was no cause to the First World War. The popular factoid that the death of a minor (though pleasant and competant) European royal in a dour Balkan capital caused the West to immolate itself in four years of a Dantean Inferno in French ditches is not false but merely silly on its face.
Talking to a classfellow in an Office Hour this week, it came to me that attributing a cause to the War is not an empirical or academical problem, but a historical-conceptual failure to use the term "cause" properly.
Before the putative Enlightenment, it was understood that there are four causes, delineated by Aristotle in his Physics, that together explain an event.
  1. Material cause: the physical properties involved.
  2. Formal cause: the aggregate of underlying properties which amount to its unique identity.
  3. Efficient cause: the initial motion or action which began the event.
  4. Final cause: the event's function or purpose -- its end.)

Take a simple illustrative example. I am about to pot the black in a game of snooker. Thwack! It's in; I win yet again. Material cause is the solid constrution of the table, balls, &c.: if the cue ball were tissue and the black jello, the event (the potting of the black) would not take place. Formal cause is the rules of billiards, the shape of the table, cue, rack, and all the other contributing elements that shape and frame -- i.e. that form -- the event. Efficient cause, of course, is the mechanics behind the cue hitting the cue ball. And final cause is Stephen Ogden winning the match and having his universal supremacy at billiards re-affirmed for posterity . Or something like that.

Applying, then, the robust pre-Enlightenment concept of causation to the problem of how and why the First World War began we see at once its great explanatory power as well as the relative feebleness of the Englightenment's shrunken understanding of "cause". The killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by an inept Bosnian terrorist is efficient cause of the First World War: and a good efficient cause it is. But being stuck in Englightenment-Cause thinking has trapped the generations of post-War scholars in an impossible search for more, or for bigger, or for better efficient causes: impossible, because no efficient cause and no amount or quality of efficient causes can ever fully explain an event. Now, of course, if the event should happen to be small enough, and if the mind contemplating the case be sufficiently bereft of imagination (or, it might be said, of rigour), then an efficient cause can seem adequate. But events on a large or more significant scale reveal the impotence of the Enlightenment-Cause model.

Material cause of the War includes 1914 Europe's demographics, military technology & ordnance, national-geographical, and perhaps the crossover network of treaties in effect. Its formal cause can be summed up as the ethnic, cultural and political histories of the nations and Empires involved. And final cause is ..... well, final cause is for each historian, historiographer and theologian to decide and to argue individually.

Ford Madox Ford in Parade's End puts one conviction of WWI's final cause -- the Tories' -- into the mouth of the protagonist Christopher Tietjens; and that would be the altruism of England. Tietjens is Ford's literary manifestation of Tory England, so when it is said of him that " is, in fact, asking for trouble if you are more altruist than the society that surrounds you," [Penguin, 207] it is actually England that has asked for trouble (and will, in fact, be smashed -- insofar as its Tory character is concerned) by entering the War altruistically to defend the "surrounding" societies of the Belgians and the French primarily for the sake of (to Madox Ford, cricket-inspired) Duty.

[Tietjens'] mind was at rest because there was going to be a war. From the first moment of his reading the paragraph about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand he had known that, calmly and with assurance. Had he imagined that this country would come in he would not have known a mind at rest. He loved this country for the run of the hills, the shape of its elm trees and the way the heather, running uphill to the skyline, meets the blue of the heavens. War for this country could only mean humiliation, spreading under the sunlight, an almost invisible pall over the elms, the hills, the heather, like the vapour that spread from .... oh, Middlesbrough! .... But of war for us [i.e. Britain] he had no fear. He saw our Ministry sitting tight till the opportune moment, and then grabbing a French channel port or a few German colonies as the price of neutrality.

You each will, I trust, be able to advance your own final cause of the War with our course under your belt ....

And to conclude, there was indeed no "cause" for the First World War: but there were, as for everything, four causes.

Update: Click this link for a typical school history attempting to explain the First World War in terms limited to efficient causes. It is actually a fairly sophisticated attempt of its type, differentiating as it does between "long term" and "short term" [efficient] causes.