Claiming ‘Victory’

31 August 2018

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Dr Meighen McCrae will use her skills as a historian to examine differing notions of victory throughout the First World War to challenge the legacies they have in our modern world.

“If you want to understand ‘victory’ you have to examine the multi-faceted perspectives of those who were involved in orchestrating it and in doing the fighting,” says Dr McCrae.

She explains that “victory is a very contextual concept, it means different things for different people, and yet today we have very strong national beliefs about ‘victory’ in the First World War.”

With work just finalised for her latest publication, Dr Meighen McCrae has utilised the experience to think thematically about representations of victory and “how it has shaped how governments think about strategy development and how we ultimately think about the (near) future”.

Set for release in early 2019, Coalition Strategy and the End of the First World War: The Supreme War Council and War Planning, 1917-18, focuses on the efforts of Britain, France, Italy and the USA to forge a coordinated coalition in the final year of World War I.

“At the end of the day, how did they bring together these multi-national perspectives to develop a strategy that they could all work towards?” In the process of researching this book, Dr McCrae became acutely aware of how these national strategies came to form a coalition one that was underpinned by a shared notion of victory – the complete military defeat of the German army.

Dr McCrae highlights this shared notion of victory by breaking down the book into multiple “theatres of war” to highlight the driving force of this concept throughout a critical time in modern world history.

Inspired by this new research and reflecting upon her past work that investigated how people have utilised science fiction literature “to advocate for a certain future based on their desire to change the present”, Dr McCrae is now in the preliminary stages of pursuing research on the conceptualisation of victory in the First World War from the perspective of those who did the fighting.

“Myth making is an important element that binds society; however, during this process many of the actual experiences and opinions of those involved in conflict, in this case the First World War, get lost.”

Dr McCrae looks at a variety of sources from the time including trench journalism, diaries, and letters, taking advantage of the digitisation of these sources in the wake of the war’s centenary. Ultimately, this research seeks to understand the extent of the appropriation of servicemen’s voices and how that relates to social constructs in modern world.

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