FREE Digitizing the War Illustrated Tea Dance Launch, 7th of September, 2-5pm, Aphra and Lumley Buildings

The Melodrama Research Group is delighted that our friends at NoRMMA will be hosting a tea dance as the official launch of their ‘Digitizing The War Illustrated’ archive! The event will take place on  the 7th of September, 2-5pm, in the Aphra and Lumley buildings at the University of Kent. The venues are accessible. 

Attendees will hear about the project, and workshop participants’ experiences of it, have the opportunity to take part in a tea dance led by a qualified instructor to music from World War I, and be offered a tasty afternoon tea.

The event is FREE, but spaces are limited and must be booked. Priority is given to those who have attended the workshops and/or the Progress Day. Please email normma.network@gmail.com to register your interest,

You can find more information on the NoRMMA blog here: http://www.normmanetwork.com/tea-dance-launch-saturday-7th-of-september-2-5pm/

 

FREE Progress Day, Monday 19th of August, 10am-5pm, Templeman Library

A brief reminder that a FREE Progress Day for the ‘Digitizing The War Illustrated’ project run by NoRMMA will take place on Monday the 19th of August, 10am-5pm, in the Templeman Library.

The day will give those who have already been introduced to the World War I magazine The War Illustrated on the Internet Archive an opportunity to advance their project. An overview of the archive and guidance with searching will also be provided to newcomers. Those who wish to can then present their work at the tea dance launch on the 7th of September – details in the next blog post!

The venue is accessible, and a free lunch will be provided.

Please email normma.network@gmail.com to book a place.

You can find more information on the NoRMMA blog here: http://www.normmanetwork.com/progress-day-monday-19th-of-august-10am-5pm/ 

 

Third Free Digitizing The War Illustrated Workshop 31st of July, 10am-4pm, in Jarman Studio 7

Our third free Digitizing the War Illustrated workshop will take place on the 31st of July, 10am-4pm, in Jarman 7, at the University of Kent.

These National Lottery Heritage Funded workshops introduce participants to the newly available online archive of the important World War I magazine The War Illustrated (1914-1919).

Visit the dedicated Digitizing the War Illustrated page on the NoRMMA blog to find out more information: http://www.normmanetwork.com/digitizing-the-war-illustrated/

You can read a round-up of our first workshop here:  http://www.normmanetwork.com/first-digitizing-the-war-illustrated-workshop-roundup/ 

If you are interested in booking one of the 12 spaces available at the workshop, please email us on normma.network@gmail.com

Second Free Digitizing The War Illustrated Workshop 24th of July, 10am-4pm, in Jarman Studio 7

A quick announcement that the second free Digitizing the War Illustrated Workshop will take place on the 24th of July, 10am-4pm, Jarman 7, at the University of Kent.

These National Lottery Heritage Funded workshops introduce participants to the newly available online archive of the important World War I magazine The War Illustrated (1914-1919).

Visit the dedicated Digitizing the War Illustrated page on the NoRMMA blog to find out more information: http://www.normmanetwork.com/digitizing-the-war-illustrated/

You can read a round-up of our first workshop here:  http://www.normmanetwork.com/first-digitizing-the-war-illustrated-workshop-roundup/ 

If you are interested in booking one of the 12 spaces available at the workshop, please email us on normma.network@gmail.com

FREE History Events at the University of Kent in Canterbury during Summer 2019

We’re taking a break from melodrama over the Summer, to turn attention to a project run by our sister network, NoRMMA (Network of Research: Movies, Magazines and Audiences).

We are delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded NoRMMA money for its ‘Digitizing The War Illustrated’ project. The project aims to increase the public’s access to, and engagement with, the important World War I magazine The War Illustrated (1914-1919). By digitizing the magazine’s complete run, and making it available online forever, for all, and for free, we can rediscover these stories of World War I.

Three free workshops will take place at the University of Kent in Canterbury from June to August.  In these, we will introduce participants to the online archive and support them in their own research projects. There will be opportunities for those wishing to gain research skills as well as those looking to enhance current expertise. All venues are accessible, and free refreshments will be supplied.

Participants will be encouraged to attend a ‘progress’ day in August to further discuss their projects. There will also be a chance to attend the tea-dance themed launch of the online archive in September.

The first FREE workshop takes place at the University of Kent in Canterbury on the 27th of June (10am-5pm) and is limited to 12 spaces. Please email normma.network@gmail.com to book your place, or if you have any queries about the events. 

 

For more details please visit:

The NoRMMA blog:

http://www.normmanetwork.com/digitizing-the-war-illustrated/

NoRMMA’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/NoRMMA-Network-of-Research-Movies-Magazines-Audiences-1440475542919996/posts/

The TWI Twitter: @DigitizingTWI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Discussion on The Crimson Field

Our discussion on The Crimson Field encompassed several areas: its three (or four) female heroines and some similarities to the heroines of melodrama and the gothic; other female characters; relationships between the other characters, including between the genders and within hierarchical structures; the suffering crying soldier and his connection to music; other films and TV series about women during war and pondering why the series was not recommissioned.

We began by noting that the hour was very action and character packed – despite the fact it all took place during the one day. This set up many interesting plot points and character relationships for upcoming episodes.

We thought that the first episode’s focus on three women’s journeys to, and first experience of, the field hospital echoed a similar Hollywood trope. In Hollywood films there are sometimes three main female characters with these separated from one another on the grounds of morality: one is a ‘good’ girl, one a ‘bad’ girl and the other sits somewhere in between. Each of these faces a different fate: one is usually punished (often by death), another triumphs and the third suffers but manages to go on. We commented that this links to US, and especially Hollywood films’, focus on melodrama.

In The Crimson Field, there are the posh clueless Flora (Alice St. Clair), the left on the shelf do-gooder spinster Rosalie (Marianne Oldham) and the spirited Kitty (Oona Chaplin) who is signalled as ‘bad’ through her modern habits of smoking and expressing forthright opinions. Kitty seems to be our main heroine as we are afforded some insight into her past as she throws away a ring on her boat journey. While Flora has to suffer the grim reality of bloody bandages and Rosalie is mocked for her spinster status, we are more invested in Kitty. She stands up to matron on behalf of the other women, and is later in danger as she is attacked by a patient. Her response to this is calm, forgiving, and her challenge to man to just kill her gives us some further awareness of her troubled past.

The three heroine focus is somewhat disrupted by the arrival of a fourth. Joan (Suranne Jones), a self-sufficient qualified nurse, arrives late, dressed in a leather coat, sporting a short hairdo, and riding a motorcycle. We thought that the fact she is unmarried (such an option was not open to nurses at the time), her appearance and manner possible coded her as a lesbian. We were especially intrigued regarding the ring she wears around her neck, hidden by her clothes.

While the emphasis on suffering – of both genders – points to melodrama, we also saw a correlation with some of our recent work on the gothic. The three main female characters headed outside at night, dressed in white gowns and carrying lamps, to wish the troops luck as they left for the front.

Our attention was also drawn to the two other main female characters – Sister Margaret Quayle (Kerry Fox) and the recently promoted Matron Grace Carter (Hermione Norris). Their relationship was complex. Outwardly good colleagues, there appeared to be tensions under the surface since Grace became matron despite Margaret having more experience. We also found the difference in their approaches to the new volunteers telling. While Grace was tough on them, Margaret appeared more friendly. Margaret was revealed to be hypocritical and cruel however as she commandeers Flora’s cake and despite telling her she has shared it among the men, is seen eating it secretly. More disturbingly she deliberately withholds a medical exemption from a suffering soldier meaning that he is sent back to the front. Meanwhile Grace is revealed to be caring towards Kitty after her attack, despite Kitty’s earlier disobedience.

Despite the dramatic war backdrop, much of the episode is about such complex characters, their power plays ,and their battling relationships. We also commented on the kindness of Kevin Doyle’s captain Lt Colonel Roland Brett,  in contrast to Colonel Charles Purbright (Adam James) forcing an emotionally damaged soldier to return to the front. Even the admirable Brett warns Matron Carter to make sure she controls the potentially ‘silly’ new female volunteers, though. This attitude fits in with the misogynistic narrative the melodrama research group has recently uncovered while researching the World War I magazine The War Illustrated. In these issues girls can be plucky and brave, but they are still kept contained. The depiction of the main heroines and other women in The Crimson Field challenges this view. (See the NoRMMA website for more on the project: http://www.normmanetwork.com/?p=604.)

We were especially struck by the depiction of Corporal Lawrence Prentiss (Karl Davies) – particularly in contrast to the women. Prentiss appears to have PTSD, and is seen to be physically suffering from his war experiences. He is offered sanctuary by the colonel (who also explicitly defies an order from his superior not to reissue an exemption pass on health grounds) and is seen crying profusely as he listens to a gramophone record of Madame Butterfly. Such a depiction of the suffering male is unusual, and the understanding shown to Prentiss perhaps progressive for the time. It is possibly significant that the music has a restorative or recuperative effect because Prentiss’ emotions are displaced onto those of a woman – the suffering opera heroine.

Watching the episode also prompted some discussion of other films and TV series which covered a similar topic. We mentioned the British films The Gentle Sex (1943) and Millions Like Us (1943) whose points of view were affected by their time of production. The TV series Tenko (1981-1984) about female prisoners of war was also referenced for its unusual focus on women during wartime.

We ended by pondering why the series was not recommissioned. It would have been especially apt to have it run through the 100 year commemoration of World War I. Its complex characters, and its positive view of women, provide a different view of war to the one we are usually afforded. We connected this to the BBC now moving money into such massive budget programmes as The Night Manager as it competes with Netflix and other platforms. If you’d like to see the rest of the series, most episodes are available to University of Kent staff and students via Box Of Broadcasts: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/

As ever, do log in to comment, or email me on sp458@kent.ac.uk to add your thoughts.

 

Melodrama Screening and Discussion, 15th of May, 5-7 pm, Jarman 7

All are very welcome to join us for the first melodrama screening and discussion session of the summer term. This will take place on Monday the 15th of May, 5-7pm, in Jarman 7.

 

We will be showing the first episode of the BBC TV series The Crimson Field (2014). The 6-part drama series follows female nurses and the military patients they treat in a French field hospital during World War I.

It was penned by Sarah Phelps, whose later adaptations of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and The Witness for the Prosecution have formed the basis of some of our previous discussions.

The screening also ties in with a recent, and ongoing, research project on the representation of women in the British wartime publication The War Illustrated. ‘Women’s War Work is Never Done’ is led by our own Tamar Jeffers McDonald, and you can find out more information on our sister blog NoRMMA’s website:  http://www.normmanetwork.com/?p=604

Do join us, if you can, to view the first episode of this series, and to discuss the Melodrama Group’s forthcoming plans.