By Sean Graham

This is the final episode in our series of podcasts recorded at the 2014 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. The conference was held May 22-25 at the University of Toronto.

Seriously“To be taken seriously is a major reward that can be bestowed on a person.” pg 4

“The unquestioned presumptions about what and who deserves to be rewarded with the accolade of ‘serious’ is one of the pillars of modern patriarchy. That is, being taken seriously is a status that every day, in routine relationships, offers the chance for masculinity to be privileged and for anything associated with femininity to be ranked as lesser, as inconsequential, as dependent, or as beyond the pale.” pg. 10

The above quotes, taken from Cynthia Enloe’s Seriously! Crashes and Crises as if Women Mattered, explore the idea of what and who is taken seriously. In her book, Enloe makes the compelling case that women have systematically been denied the distinction of being taken seriously. In focusing on recent military and economic issues, Enloe carefully documents how women have been dismissed and denied access to the critical discussions that have shaped major policy decisions.
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Comic Art and the First World War

by Guest on September 30, 2014 is featuring this post as part of  “Canada’s First World War: A Centennial Series on”, a multi-year series of regular posts about the history and centennial of the First World War. 

By Sarah Glassford, Christopher Schultz, Nathan Smith and Jonathan Weier

As regulars know, comic book writers and artists sometimes find inspiration in history (see posts by Mosby, McCracken, and Carlton).  This is certainly true of the First World War, which has offered material for interpretation in this artistic medium just as it has in poetry, fiction, or film.  And it did so right away.  Comics interpreted wartime experience during and soon after the war, alongside poetry, prose, fine arts, theatre and film.

Old Bill. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Old Bill. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Tim Cook’s research into Canadian soldiers’ culture shows that comic illustration was an important aspect of the trench journals produced by some battalions during the war.  (See his “Anti-Heroes of the Canadian Expeditionary Force,” in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association.) Veterans’ publications included comics about soldier (and returned soldier) experience too.  Probably the most popular comic character to come from the war was Old Bill, a working-class British Army veteran who survived the dangers of the front and put up with the ignominies of life as a private soldier.  Creator Bruce Bairnsfeather, who survived frontline service in the British Expeditionary Force, introduced the character in the pages of The Bystander magazine in 1914. Old Bill’s popularity supported book publications of the cartoon during the war, a postwar play, and a film based on the play.

Today, one is likely to find that comic art, and especially graphic novels have truly come of age, earning mass appreciation as well as scholarly scrutiny. With the centennial upon us, booksellers and publishers are rediscovering earlier comic art by such legends as Jacques Tardi, whose works will reach a new and eager audience now that they are being reissued. Foyles Bookshop, one of the great booksellers in London UK, for instance, has filled a wall with graphic novels and comics, seemingly to introduce a younger audience to the First World War.

Alongside scheduled new editions of Tardi’s and other classics are new efforts by contemporary artists. One such book, an anthology titled Above the Dreamless Dead, attempts to capture the broad spectrum of comic art, from the traditional styles of Bairnsfather’s Old Bill to the more contemporary styles of recent graphic novels. Interested historians may also recognize that many of the styles can be found in the classical and avant-garde art of the war and immediate post-war years, interestingly and effectively blurring the lines of “high” and “pop” (or, derogatorily, “low”) culture.

Above the Dreamless Dead has recently been reviewed by our friends at Ad Astra Comix who are interested, according to their web site and reviewer Nicole Marie Burton, in “politically charged graphic words.” Nicole, herself, is an anti-war activist and servicepersons’ rights organizer. She has her first historical graphic novel scheduled for release in the coming year about the 1935 Corbin miners’ strike in British Columbia, one of many bloody instances of labour unrest during the Great Depression. It would seem to us, given the connection between the stock market crash of 1929 and the First World War, that Nicole’s own interests dovetail nicely with the Great War. We invite readers to read her review of Above the Dreamless Dead (with images and links to additional materials).


The Future of the Library in the Digital Age? Worrying about Preserving our Knowledge

September 29, 2014

By Ian Milligan Yesterday afternoon, in the atrium of the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus, a packed room forewent what was likely the last nice weekend of summer to join Peter Mansbridge and guests for a discussion around “What’s the future of the library in the age of Google?” It was aired on CBC’s Cross […]

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Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History by Sean Kheraj

September 26, 2014

By Lani Russwurm It would be difficult to overstate the significance of Stanley Park to Vancouver’s identity. Visiting the park is obligatory for tourists, and locals from across the spectrum use it frequently for a myriad of activities. But the feature that distinguishes Stanley Park from most other large urban parks is its large forest […]

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A Healthy Custom

September 25, 2014

By Andrew Nurse “What Use is History?” This is the question asked by a 1958 article in The Royal Bank of Canada Monthly Letter. I will confess that I have no particular soft spot for the Royal Bank (even though, I suppose, it technically owns the house in which I live), but I was intrigued […]

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Introducing The Home Archivist

September 24, 2014

By Jessica Dunkin This is the first in a series of posts called The Home Archivist, in which a professional historian discusses her experiences with a private collection of 19th-century letters. In the two years leading up to their wedding on June 29th, 1891, Amelia Wilkinson and John MacKendrick exchanged letters almost daily. Unlike most […]

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A Canadian Observing the Great War Centenary in London, UK

September 23, 2014 is featuring this post as part of “Canada’s First World War: A Centennial Series on”, a multi-year series of regular posts about the history and centennial of the First World War.  By Christopher Schultz A kangaroo burger beckoned from the menu. It was a small taste of the exotic in London’s Mile End […]

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Bringing the Legacy of Residential Schools into the Classroom

September 22, 2014

By Krista McCracken Teaching about an emotionally charged, important topic like residential schools can be daunting, especially if like many Canadians you weren’t exposed to residential schools in any great depth during your own education. My job includes the delivery of educational programming relating to residential schools.  This most commonly takes the form of historical […]

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New Paper: Debating Canada’s Future: A Night at Montreal’s Sohmer Park, 1892

September 19, 2014

As the media has made clear over the past several weeks, what took place in Scotland yesterday resonates strongly with past independence movements in Canada. What has been less apparent in these discussions, which usually focus solely on the Quebec referendums in 1980 and 1995, are the deep roots in which Canada’s political future was debated. One […]

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The Power-Politics of Pulp and Paper: Health, Environment and Work in Pictou County

September 18, 2014

Lachlan MacKinnon In recent months, concerns surrounding pollution at the Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie, Nova Scotia have prompted extensive local debate and filled the pages of provincial newspapers with columns and op-ed pieces. Controversy erupted in June, after Northern Pulp announced that the mill was shutting down operations to deal with a wastewater leak. […]

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