As the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War approaches, here are some of the ways our students, academics and alumni are investigating and remembering the conflict, telling untold stories and challenging popular memory.
The multicultural First World War
Though popular and mainstream accounts of the First World War often omit the experience of BAME soldiers, there has been a renewed effort to document and investigate the role colonial troops played in the conflict.
Goldsmiths Senior Lecturer Dr Richard Smith has been at the forefront of this effort, focusing his work on the experiences and representations of Black soldiers and citizens during wartime.
From problematising the link between contemporary multiculturalism and representations of West Indian military service to investigating the aspirations and hopes of those who risked their lives for colonial Britain, Smith's work highlights the global nature of the war, investigating both the time period itself and the impact it has had on contemporary society.
Remembering the forgotten faces
At least 12% of all wounded men from the Great War suffered facial wounds. Yet, despite this high percentage, facial disfigurement and the socio-cultural effects it had on both sufferers and wider society are a neglected aspect of popular culture and historical representations of the First World War.
Attempting to shed light on this issue and reclaim history for the victims, History MA alumna Ellie Grigsby ran a successful fund-raising campaign to create a memorial to be installed at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, an institution built 100 years ago to treat soldiers with facial wounds. The memorial, which Goldsmiths helped to fund through a donation, is due to be unveiled in autumn 2019.
Ellie is keen to hear from any relatives of facially-disfigured First World war servicemen who were treated at Queen Mary’s and would be interested in being involved in next year’s commemoration. She can be contacted via email at egrig001(@gold.ac.uk)
"The stench of the fallen might highlight the fact that patriotism that warrants the ultimate sacrifice is a terrible thing"
The stench of the Great War
How does literature represent the stench of war? Professor of German and Head of Department for English and Comparative Literature Frank Krause writes on the 'smellscapes' in English, German and French narratives of the Great War, investigating the meaning behind descriptions of wartime smells.
A Warden in wartime
109 people who either studied or taught at Goldsmiths were killed during the First World War, the memorial in the Richard Hoggart Building a telling reminder of this loss. Killed during the 1915 British campaign in Gallipoli, Goldsmiths' first Warden, William Loring, was among those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
A 'forgotten history' until recently, Goldsmiths Professor in Media and Communications Tim Crook has made it his mission to unearth and elevate the Warden's story and remember his service to both college and country. Writing a detailed history of Loring's personal and professional lives, Crook's account reminds us that, though the Warden's extolment of war no longer reflects Goldsmiths' ideals, the College's pioneering of ideas, debate, creativity and cultural progress were much the same then as today.
End of Empire
Goldsmiths alumnus and Honorary Fellow Yinka Shonibare's latest commission explores the alliances forged in the First World War and how they changed British society forever, focusing on immigration and the contribution those who came to Britain made to the country they fought for.
Coupled with a second sculptural work exhibiting iconic literary contributions made by immigrants over the 20th Century, End of Empire is an unapologetic investigation into what it really means to be British and how this notion has been shaped by those once viewed as other.
Though commonplace now at the scenes of accidents and crimes, the prevalence of shrines of flowers and photographs left on the streets of Britain during the Great War has largely been forgotten.
Researching local Southwark history, Goldsmiths History student Neil Crossfield explores war memorials in Walworth, shedding light on the use of street shines during the First World War. His work has unearthed the popularity of these shrines as commemorative points for local communities; a popularity which saw them a prominent feature of English streets during the war.
As well as research projects from staff, students and alumni, we have a range of events on various aspects of the war taking place throughout November.
Devils on Horseback
Goldsmiths' Professor Tim Crook's play tells the colourful tale of conscientious objectors and the people that tried them. After national success, the play returns to its South London roots for the final performance. 9 November, 7.30pm.
Dublin's Great Wars: Book launch
Goldsmiths' Professor of History Richard Grayson explores the interconnectedness of the First World War and the Irish Revolution, reframing these often separated conflicts as a series of intertwined 'Great Wars'. 12 November 2018, 5.15-7pm.
Spirits on the First World War battlefields
Superstition or genuine instances of the occult? The Goldsmiths Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit invites the University of Hertfordshire's Professor of Social History Owen Davies to talk through the many tales of ghosts and strange happenings of the Great War, exploring its reputation among many as a period of supernatural significance. 20 November, 6-7.30pm.
The Department of History
As well as working on a number of projects and events throughout this year's commemorative period, the Department of History has a range of previous and ongoing projects dedicated to investigating the Great War.
Have a look through the department's WW1 page to learn about how our academics have worked to unearth and tell novel and localised stories, from conducting an analysis on the amount of soldiers' time spent on the front-line to unearthing the staff and student casualties at battles such as Passchendaele.
The department also boasts an award-winning book on the subject, with Professor of History Alexander Watson receiving the 2015 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History for his book Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I.