University of Tasmania
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The story of the story of Anzac

posted on 2023-05-26, 04:13 authored by Ball, M
This thesis examines the role of the Anzac myth in the imagining of Australian nationhood. It considers the historical poetics out of which the Anzac myth emerged, together with the contemporary social structures in which it continues to flourish. Due to the scale and variety of the subject matter, the thesis is catho1ic in its use of theoretical methodology. It likewise visits a broad range of data: from newspaper comment to historical monographs; from manuscript archive to official propaganda; from. political speeches to fiction and poetry. The first half of the thesis pursues a critical study of myth theory, and the sorts of myth models that accompany narratives of nationhood. I examine how the Anzac myth appropriated many existing Australian myths into itself, and I illustrate how Anzac is an abundant field for mythic readings. The second half of the thesis analyzes the central text of the Anzac story, C.E.W. Bean's Official history of Australia in the Great War, 1914- 1918. I look at the range of Bean's writings to highlight the themes which pervade all his work. I analyse the tropes of style and form in the text, as well as the influence on Bean of his historiographical exemplars. Lastly I discuss the structural archaeology of the text, and recover the traces of Homer's Illiad that mould and colour the Official History. The two parts of the thesis are bookended by chapters that combine the various ands 'myth', 'history' and 'nation', and at the same time examine the place of Bean's Official History in contemporary Australian culture. I analyze the portrayal of Anzac in various literary and filmic texts. In particular, I discuss the way Prime Ministers Keating and Howard have harnessed Anzac imagery to express their conceptions of Australian politics and values. Lastlv, I look to the silences of the Anzac myth - the stories it suppresses, and those it does not tell; and I consider the question of whether Anzac should continue to claim its pre-eminent position as the myth of nation forming for Australia.


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