Narrating Canadian War Memorials, Understanding National Identity
Marzena Sokołowska-ParyżUniversity of Warsaw, Poland
Marzena Sokołowska-Paryż is University Professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland, where she teaches courses on contemporary British and Commonwealth literature, with specific emphasis on war-related poetry, prose fiction, film, memorials, and photography in the context of history versus memory/trauma and national identity. She completed her studies in 1992, receiving her MA degree on the basis of a dissertation entitled “Idealism and Realism in English and Polish Poetry of the First World War”, written under the supervision of Professor Jacek Wiśniewski. Her PhD dissertation entitled The Myth of War in British and Polish Poetry, 1939–1945 was also supervised by Professor Jacek Wiśniewski, and it could not have been otherwise. Marzena Sokołowska-Paryż is the author of Reimagining the War Memorial, Reinterpreting the Great War: The Formats of British Commemorative Fiction (2012) and The Myth of War in British and Polish Poetry, 1939–1945 (2002). She has co-edited, together with Martin Löschnigg, The Great War in Post-Memory Literature and Film (2014) and The Enemy in Contemporary Film (2018). She has also published in a number of international journals and co-edited volumes on the subject matter of war, memory, and trauma. On a personal note: I am indebted to Professor Jacek Wisniewski for my fascination with the Great War, and I am grateful for showing me how to develop my war interests so as to become a better teacher and researcher. Most of all, I am thankful for his unwavering belief in me as a promising scholar.
Pierre Berton writes that “Canada, more than most countries, is a nation of … memorials”. Yet, with the passage of time, war memorials inevitably tend to lose their original significance, becoming altogether ‘invisible’ for historically-estranged generations. Hence the need for re-remembering war memorials and monuments for the purposes of consolidating a (national) collective memory. The aim of this paper is a comparative analysis of Fields of Sacrifice (1963, dir. Donald Brittain), Herbert Fairlie Wood’s and John Swettenham’s Silent Witnesses (1974), Robert Shipley’s To Mark Our Place (1987), and Robert Konduras’s and Richard Parrish’s World War I: A Monumental History (2014) within the context of the theoretical distinction between memorial and monument cultures in order to discuss the defining ideological tropes of ‘Canadianness’.
Keywords:war, commemoration, memorials, monuments, the Great War, World War II, Canada, national memory
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