Maurice Shadbolt, William Malone and Chunuk Bair


History Seminar Series

School of Humanities and Social Science,
The University of Newcastle
2012, Semester 1

Held in the Cultural Collections (near the Information Desk)
Level 2, Auchmuty Library, Callaghan Campus

Friday 18th May, 10:00am, followed by morning tea

 Dr James Bennett

School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Newcastle University

Maurice Shadbolt, William Malone and Chunuk Bair:  Gallipoli and late 20th century New Zealand cultural nationalist productions’

With some notable exceptions, representations of Gallipoli (especially popular ones) have long been confined to singular national (and nationalistic) interpretations of the campaign that are typically built around the elevation of mythology, national identity and sentiment. Peter Weir’s 1981 feature film, Gallipoli, a near classic version of the Anzac legend, is perhaps the most influential text ever on this historical turning point.

Given the audience’s familiarity with Weir’s feature film, the paper will introduce it as a comparative anchor for the discussion around Maurice Shadbolt, architect of a cultural nationalist moment in 1980s New Zealand. Particular emphasis will be given to Shadbolt’s dramatic 1982 stage play, Once on Chunuk Bair, and his related writings from other genres on the First World War. The 1991 adaptation of the play into a low budget feature film will also be briefly considered. The paper will interrogate Shadbolt’s motivation for this incisive intervention in New Zealand public life, situating it in an era when the nation was transitioning to decolonisation and cultural independence.

In order to place discussion of Gallipoli and cultural nationalism in a broader context, the presenter will also briefly speak to the issue of a key shift in Gallipoli studies over the past decade underpinned by a growing body of revisionist historical scholarship on the campaign. This work informs two significant transnational documentaries made to mark the occasion of the 90th anniversary in 2005. Both are important tools in helping us to transcend the national paradigm and to rethink the campaign in more holistic and complex ways.

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