Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies (Honours)
School of History and Politics
Julia Smart, Capturing captivity: Australian prisons of the Great War, Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies (Honours) thesis, School of History and Politics, University of Wollongong, 2013, 88p.
Over 4000 Australian soldiers were taken prisoner during the course of the Great War. Their experiences have been largely unexplored. A small number of these men wrote about their experiences, and in doing so, they had to negotiate particular social and literary contexts. As such, their accounts were deliberately structured, retrospective texts. These accounts often reveal a tension between experiences and expectations, a tension that often resulted in exaggeration, embellishment and inaccuracy. This thesis approaches these memoirs, not as factual and historically accurate accounts, but as documents that are revealing in light of elements of exaggeration and selective representation. It focuses on key moments and themes within these narratives and argues that, irrespective of the accuracy of these memoirs, they reflect the diversity, depth and ambiguity of responses to captivity. These accounts fundamentally challenge assumptions of passivity and inactivity on the part of the captive that have tended to characterise literature examining the experiences of Australian soldiers taken prisoner during the Great War.