The comfort of reading in WWI: the bibliotherapy of trench and hospital magazines


Australian War Memorial

Véronique Duché, The University of Melbourne and Amanda Laugesen, Australian National University

Modern warfare produces both trauma and boredom in equal measure. During the first world war, one way troops found solace was by writing and reading magazines created by soldiers, for soldiers.

Throughout the war, these magazines were produced in trenches, on troopships, in camps and in hospitals. Some were written by hand; others produced on makeshift printing presses soldiers came upon in war-torn towns of France and Belgium.

They could be simple pencilled sheets reproduced with carbon paper or made using jelly or spirit duplicators. Others were more sophisticated multi-page publications, often featuring illustrations.

Men work on a makeshift duplicator.
Some magazines were reproduced using jelly or spirit duplicators.
BNF/Gallica

The Australian War Memorial holds 170 troopship journals and over 70 trench magazines. Many other trench publications have disappeared; some can’t be read anymore because their ink has faded.

Our research focuses on how these magazines cared for soldiers, considering their significant psychological and emotional benefits.

Bran Mash and Aussie

One of the first Australian magazines was the Bran Mash, created by the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli.

Written in pencil on two leaves of official typing paper, and duplicated with carbon paper, there was only a single issue. It included a selection of the rumours, or “furphies”, circulating on Gallipoli.

Many trench journals published a single or limited number of issues. They were often forced to stop production because of troop movements, the loss of an editor or printing press, or lack of paper.

Phillip L. Harris, editor of trench magazine Aussie: the Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, once wrote he had made “a fortunate discovery in the cellar of a printery at Armentiéres”.

There, he found ten tons of paper, with which he printed 100,000 copies of the third issue of Aussie. With Harris at the helm, 13 issues of Aussie were produced in the Western Front trenches through 1918 and 1919.

A purple sketch
Evening in the basement, from the French trench magazine L’Argonnaute 1916.
BNF/Gallica

These magazines all reflected the humour, sentiment and preoccupations of soldiers and soldier-patients. The handwritten The Dinkum Oil, produced at Gallipoli over eight editions in 1915 was a place to express national identity — not least through the use of Australian slang.

These magazines offered therapeutic value through their reading, and writing. Stories, verse and jokes were all welcome, alongside items airing complaints: a much-needed release valve for the disgruntlements of military life.

Humour runs through them. A cartoon in Aussie, captioned “Polling Day in France”, showed two officers talking. “In what State did you enlist?” asks the senior officer. Private Jones replies: “In a state of drunkenness, sir”.

Cartoon, as rendered in body text.
This cartoon was published in the first edition of Aussie.
Cambridge University Library

Other anecdotes captured misunderstandings between the Australian soldiers and French civilians, with “bon soir” misheard as “bonza war!”




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Bright and light

The editors called for “bright, short contributions”, as The Rising Sun, an Australian magazine produced from December 1916 to March 1917, put it.

French trench magazine Le Poilu (“The Hairy One”, a slang term for an infantryman) stated its ambition as being “simply to entertain you for a moment, between two heavy mortar shells, or even between two fatigue-duties.”

The Harefield Park Boomerang, published at the No. 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield House in Middlesex, England, committed to having a “cheery tone”, despite the sometimes grim content of their publication.




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Alongside news of activities in the hospital and updates on sports news, it included mentions of men who died (“our fallen comrades”) and their funeral details, as well as updates on donations to the “headstone fund appeal”.

Alongside the grim realities, black humour is very apparent. A poem in Mountain Mist, a magazine produced by soldier-patients at the Bodington sanitorium in the Blue Mountains for returned soldiers suffering tuberculosis, played on the popular soldier song Parlez Vous with words changed to reflect the experience of the tubercular soldier:

Digger had a little cough

It wasn’t much you know

Yet everywhere that Digger went

His cough it had to go.

Sentiment also figured strongly. Poems praising mothers and sisters were common, and there were many invocations of home.

In 1917, J.J. Collins wrote a poem “To my mother”, published in the Harefield Park Boomerang, comforting her he was not defeated by his wounds:

I’ll bring home marks of a German shell.

But what does it matter, mother dear?

Dry from your eye that glistening tear.

Let your heart rejoice at the pain I’ve borne.

These magazines were also sent home, giving loved ones a glimpse of war life.

Hospital magazines could provide some reassurance to loved ones, but the picture they painted was incomplete. Soldier-patients were typically presented as stoic, cheerful and able to cope with whatever was thrown at them – as the poem by Collins shows.

But the reality for many returned soldiers who had been wounded would be a legacy of ill-health and early death.

For soldiers wounded in ways that would forever change them, this was perhaps how they preferred to be seen — still men, still warriors. These magazines reworked the traumas of war to try and make the experience palatable for the men, and for their loved ones.




Read more:
Telling the forgotten stories of Indigenous servicemen in the first world war


Ongoing bibliotherapy

These early trench and hospital magazines played an essential psychological function. In providing entertainment and in keeping soldiers’ minds occupied, they were a much-needed form of therapy and mental comfort in difficult times.

The magazines – by and for the soldiers – were often lovingly self-deprecating, as seen here in Aussie.
Cambridge University Library

The place these magazines held in soldiers’ hearts was perhaps illustrated in the reprinting of all the wartime editions of Aussie magazine in 1920.

Phillip Harris subsequently revived the paper, now to be a general newspaper that would transfer the “splendid spirit of comradeship, enthusiasm and patriotism” of the Australian soldiers to the Australian population at large. It lasted until 1931.The Conversation

Véronique Duché, A.R. Chisholm Professor of French, The University of Melbourne and Amanda Laugesen, Director, Australian National Dictionary Centre, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Literary magazines are often the first place new authors are published. We can’t lose them



Blair Fraser/Unsplash

Alexandra Dane, University of Melbourne

Australia’s literary journals are produced in a fragile ecosystem propped up by a patchwork of volunteer labour, generous patrons and, with any luck, a small slice of government funding.

The Sydney Review of Books, the Australian Book Review and Overland were among a group of publications who sought four-year funding from the Australia Council in 2020 but were unsuccessful.

These publications join the ranks of many others – among them Meanjin and Island – defunded by state or federal arts funding bodies in recent years.




Read more:
The Meanjin funding cuts: a graceless coup?


These magazines are vital for today’s publishing industry. For many authors literary magazines provide the first opportunity for publication. For editors and arts administrators, they provide a training ground for life-long careers in Australia’s creative sector.

The past decade has seen a steady decline in arts funding going to individuals and organisations. According to Chairman of the Copyright Agency and former media executive, Kim Williams, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald:

[…] if funding for literature had been maintained as in the mid-70s, considering inflation and population growth, it should be at $12 million, at least. Today, it stands at just $5 million (compared with $4.2 million 30 years ago).

The list of defunded writing-focused organisations in the most recent multi-year funding round is stark. Those losing their multi-year status include Artlink, Eyeline, Art Monthly, the Australian Script Centre, Playwriting Australia, Sydney Writer’s Festival and Brisbane Writers Festival.

Without securing medium-term support, these organisations face an uncertain future.

Vital discourse

In response to the 2020 funding announcement, editor of Australian Book Review, Peter Rose, stated the decision demonstrates

little understanding of [the magazine sector’s] contribution to the literary ecology, and no appreciation of the dire consequences for readers, authors, contributors and publishers.

The cultural discussions within the pages of literary journals set the agenda for the more higher-profile but slower-moving institutions such as publishers, prizes and festivals.

Literary magazines are often the first place authors are published. Against the backdrop of an industry largely staffed by white, middle-class people, small magazines are at the forefront of bringing more Australian writing to the surface from writers of colour, First Nations writers, disabled writers, trans writers and working-class writers, challenging those who hold power at the top of the sector.




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Writing in 2015 about the position magazines such as Island or Overland occupy, Emmett Stinson noted these publications:

[…] are essential to contemporary literary culture: they showcase new and emerging writers; […] offer more extended literary debates and discussions than the broadsheets; comprise a venue for journalism that contains views outside of the liberal mainstream; serve as rallying points for different communities of readers and coteries of authors […]

Ben Etherington’s essay about the parallel lives and deaths of Mudrooroo and Les Murray, Cher Tan’s exposition and critique of taste production on the internet, and Blak Brow – which was written, edited, illustrated, curated and performed by First Nations creators – are among countless examples of the ways literary magazines carve out space for critique, expression, consideration and reflection.

In shifting funding away from small magazines, we lose the place for these discussions.

Not a competition

Uncertainty, instability and fragility are perhaps the defining characteristics of small magazines.

The decisions to not fund literary magazines not only have a significant impact on the individual publications, but also to Australian cultural discourse.

What gets published within the pages of these magazines can entertain us, it can inspire us to critically examine the world around us, and can help us understand culture that moves us.

Vibrant discussion about culture, society and the arts does not happen by accident. It must be carefully nurtured and requires financial support.

The Australia Council make extremely difficult decisions about what gets funded and what doesn’t.

Not every organisation and publication and festival can receive funding. Those who don’t secure funding are no more or less worthy than those who do. Reduced financial support for Australia’s creative endeavours encourages artists to turn against one another in judgement of what should and should not receive funding.

Australian artists entertain us, challenge us and allow us to see things from different perspectives. Fulfilling a capitalist desire for competition, however, only distracts from the importance of Australian artists and the contribution the creative sector makes to our lives.


Correction: a reference to the Wheeler Centre has been removed as they did not apply for funding in 2020.The Conversation

Alexandra Dane, Lecturer, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What early French female press can tell us about a key period for women in public life



Lady Reading in an Interior (between 1795 and 1800).
Marguerite Gérard (1761–1837)

Siobhán McIlvanney, King’s College London

Straddling the private and public domains, the early French women’s press – the various published journals and pamphlets that began to appear in the 18th and early 19th centuries – can provide a unique insight into women’s everyday struggles and successes during a particularly turbulent period in France’s history.

Women’s magazines today are often thought of as ideologically somewhat conformist. They are seen to promote a limited range of feminine role models and to reinforce norms regarding women’s position within patriarchal society. The content of much of the early French women’s press presents a very different picture.

The origins of the French women’s press date back to the 18th century. The first women’s journal of any substance and longevity, Le Journal des dames, was published from 1759 until 1778. Over the next few decades a variety of different subsections and types of article emerged – many of which, whether the domestic magazine or the problem page, remain current in today’s women’s press.

It was my interest in the “political” potential of these representations of French women’s daily lives that gave rise to my book Figurations of the Feminine in the Early French Women’s Press, 1758-1848. During this period, French women had no right to political representation. Despite the Enlightenment emphasis on the rights of the individual, women were not considered of equal status to men. Their education was significantly less extensive than men’s in terms of both subjects taught and duration, resulting in high levels of illiteracy.

Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793)
Unknown artist

The playwright and social reformer Olympe de Gouges famously drafted her own Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Citizen in 1791 in response to what she viewed as the gendered inequalities of the original Declaration in 1789.

The Napoleonic Code of 1804 legally obliged wives to obey their husbands and gave the latter complete control of all property. So how did these earliest women’s journals engage with the rights and roles of French women at the time?

Building communities of women

The early French women’s press spans a range of genres, from the literary review (Le Journal des dames) to the fashion journal (Le Journal des dames et des modes [1797-1839]) to the more socially conscious feminist journal, La Femme libre (1832-34), which strove to improve employment conditions for women. These publications had a variety of target readerships, depending on the sorts of issues they covered – and these, in turn, partly depend on their historical period of publication.

Just as the Revolution of 1789 provided an impetus for women’s journals and pamphlets, such as Les Étrennes nationales des dames(1789) to intensify their demands for sexual equality, journals during the Restoration adopt a moralistic tone (Le Journal des dames et des modes, focusing on more light-hearted subjects such as fashion and characterising female readers as guardians of the hearth and paragons of virtue.

The actual readership of early French women’s journals, aside from what we can glean from articles and letters submitted by readers, is more difficult to establish and circulation claims are notoriously unreliable. Both literacy levels and the expense of the earliest women’s journals clearly limited their readership, although journals were passed among friends and within households – and, according to the correspondence of readers in Le Journal des dames et des modes (July 1803) were even read aloud.

What is clear is the pleasure expressed by many women readers at engaging in dialogue with a community of like-minded individuals and the resulting sense of collective identity and political consciousness based on gender. For the first time, French women readers – largely confined to the domestic realm – were encouraged to articulate their “private” opinions in a public forum.

Many women writers, such as George Sand, chose to adopt male pseudonyms when publishing.
Jean-Baptiste Bonjour (1801-1882)

Women authors too, such as Madame de Savignac – who published educational fiction for young people – writing in Le Journal des femmes in May 1833, appreciated the role played by women’s journals in supporting women’s intellectual achievements and in giving women authors the confidence to renounce their male pseudonyms.

Many contemporary women authors adopted male pseudonyms – Savignac makes specific mention of George Sand – in order to maintain anonymity and increase the likelihood of publication in a male-dominated publishing world.

Civic feminism

Women’s journals both act as a mirror to the society in which they are produced but can also help modify aspects of that society. Like today’s women’s press, early women’s journals in France were also selling the notion of a better life. But rather than appealing to the reader’s materialist aspirations, they did so by highlighting the need for women’s personal and public responsibility. They demonstrated a form of “civic feminism”, to employ a term adopted by the historian Carla Hesse.

If the content varies depending on the journal and the historical context in question, the radicalness of the agenda and of the narratives these journals promote is striking. Many journals – in particular the fashion press – still remained conservative in their worldview. But many others confronted legislative and social prejudices against women in an endeavour to strengthen their rights – whether to divorce or to vote – and to improve their standing in French society through the promotion of a more intellectually challenging education for women. As Suellen Diaconoff remarks in her study Through the Reading Glass: Women, Books, and Sex in the French Enlightenment:

It would be overstating the case to say that female editors focused on setting a full pro-woman agenda in their periodicals, or to assert that they saw themselves first as feminist activists and secondarily as journalists. But it is, nonetheless, true that their journals often carried a competing and alternative discourse for women, at significant variance from the model widely accepted in the mainstream.

Early French women’s journals also fought for a more inclusive French canon that treated women authors seriously. They championed women’s right to choose their own husbands in an age of arranged marriages and encouraged those women with unhappy marriages to write in anonymously about their problems, thereby providing the first example of the problem page (Le Courier de l’hymen, journal des dames, 1791).

They petitioned for improvements in women’s education and employment conditions (La Femme libre and La Voix des femmes, 1848). In short, for their contemporary readers, these early journals promoted women’s intellectual, familial and professional contributions to French society.

For today’s reader, they provide a privileged and – as yet – largely un-navigated mapping of French women’s evolving personal and political trajectories.The Conversation

Siobhán McIlvanney, Reader in French and Francophone Women’s Writing; Head of Department of French, King’s College London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Scribd Now Offers Subscription Magazines


The links below are to articles reporting on Scribd now offering subscription magazines.

For more vsiit:
http://the-digital-reader.com/2016/11/01/scribd-isnt-dead-now-carries-magazines/
http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/scribd-now-offers-digital-magazines

It was great having you, magazines. Let’s just say goodbye now


Gigaom

The announcement came one day in 1992, when I was eight, and was momentous enough in my household that I actually answered the phone with “Tina Brown became editor of the New Yorker!”

This is seared in my mind now as one of the most cringe-worthy things I did in childhood. Yet I’m telling you about it to provide evidence that I grew up surrounded by print magazines and a belief in their importance; so that now, when I talk about my increasingly sad relationship with magazines, you’ll believe that I’m not simply dismissing them out of hand, Millennial-style.

Magazines have been an important part of my reading and regular life, but they aren’t like books, where I actually can’t imagine what both my life and the entire course of human history would look like without them. For all of the debates about publishers and Amazon and so on, I don’t…

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Why tablet magazines are a failure


Gigaom

“We’re starting a new magazine,” the entrepreneur told me. “We have a potent niche to cover, and advertisers are dying for us to deliver interactive ads.”

Another woman I met with wanted to launch a tablet magazine about renewable energy. “It’s global and I have all the right connections to get it out there,” she said. “And I’ve found an out-of-the-box software solution to power it.”

Both projects impressed me. From an editorial point of view, they both nailed it. The entrepreneurs’ energy was great. A few years ago I would have been all in with them.

Today, though, my mind has changed. I fear the app-based tablet approach to magazines leads straight to oblivion, at least for individual magazine titles.

Not that tablets aren’t suited for reading. I discover most of the articles I read every day through my favorite iPad apps: Zite, Flipboard, Facebook (s FB) and Twitter…

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Flipboard launches its mobile magazines on the web


Gigaom

Flipboard is making its custom magazines available on the web, the company announced Tuesday. Until now, the magazines, which Flipboard launched in March, were only available to read through Flipboard’s mobile apps.

Flipboard’s magazines feature lets users create magazines from content found through Flipboard’s apps and on the web, and it was a move toward turning Flipboard from a publisher-centric platform to a user-centric platform. Now, with Tuesday’s update, readers can access those custom magazines from their web browsers the way they do in apps, flipping the pages with the keyboard’s arrow keys or by swiping the trackpad. Below, for instance, is GigaOm’s Flipboard magazine “GigaOM Reads” on the web. You can browse through the magazines on the web here. Flipboard says that since March, readers have created over two million magazines.

GigaOM Reads

Flipboard’s web-reading experience doesn’t duplicate all the capabilities of the app. Users will still have to…

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