Institute of Advanced Studies

2015 Fred Alexander Lecture


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Hell Sounds, Birdsongs and Zeppelins: Emotions, Memory and the Soundscape of the Great War

The 2015 Fred Alexander Lecture by Joy Damousi, Professor of History and ARC Laureate Fellow, University of Melbourne.

Joy DamousiThis lecture considered the ways in which the sounds of the battlefield and the home front during the Great War defined the memory of the war and elicited a range of emotional responses.

Sound was never passive or static, but was a powerful, inescapable and defining presence in the experience of war by both combatants and civilians. The relentless sounds of war pierced the emotions and were associated with distinctive memories of grief, loss and trauma. Fear, too, was a key response to the thunderous sounds of war that created heightened anxiety. This general theme will be extended to discussing responses by civilians to air raids and bombings, which engendered desperation and trauma, crucially through distinctive sounds. Through an analysis of the experience of sound we can enable a broader, uncharted understanding of a cultural history of the emotional experience of civilians and combatants, and their memories during the Great War and beyond it.

Professor Joy Damousi is Professor of History and ARC Laureate Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She has published on various aspects of grief, trauma and loss during the two world wars. Professor Damousi is general editor of a four volume World History of Violence with Philip Dwyer (due to be published in 2017). She contributed to the Cambridge History of the First World War (ed) Jay Winter on the theme of mourning practices. Her books include Living with the Aftermath: Trauma, Nostalgia and Grief in postwar Australia (Cambridge 2001),The Labour of Loss: Mourning, Memory and Wartime Bereavement in Australia (Cambridge 1999).

Professor Damousi is the 2015 UWA Fred Alexander Fellow.

This lecture was held in conjunction with the War & Emotions Symposium presented by the ARC Centre of Excellence for History of Emotions, the Centre for WA History and the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, and is part of UWANZACAugust, The University of Western Australia’s ANZAC Centenary commemorations coordinated by the Cultural Precinct through its WINTERarts program.

17 August 2015