From Khartoum to Kabul

Changing fashions in Australian writing about war

Joan Beaumont, Craig Stockings, and Kevin Foster in conversation with Host Martin James

Ever since the first significant Australian involvement in an offshore conflict in the Sudan in 1885, tastes and trends in military writing have been changing.

This thought-provoking panel discussion among outstanding writers will explore how writing about war reflects changing military circumstances and evolving community attitudes.

A question and answer segment will enable the audience to join the discussion.

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Martin James

Martin is Director of History – Air Force and RAAF Historian. He is responsible for providing authoritative advice on history matters, including unit history records, customs, traditions and honours and awards.

Professor Emerita Joan Beaumont

Joan Beaumont is Emeritus Professor in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. She is internationally recognised for her work as an historian of Australia in both world wars, and of Australian defence and foreign policy, the history of prisoners of war and the memory and heritage of war. She came to special notice in Darwin in 1988 when Allen and Unwin published her second book – Gull Force: Survival and Leadership in Captivity, 1941 – 1945. The book analysed the experiences of Australians who were captured on Ambon in 1942. Many books have followed, none more highly praised than her prize-winning Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War. She is currently writing a “sequel” to Broken Nation, on Australians in the 1920s and the Great Depression.

Professor Craig Stockings

Craig Stockings is the Official Historian of Australian Operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor. He is a graduate of both the Australian Defence Force Academy, and the Royal Military College, Duntroon. As an Infantry Officer he served in a range of regimental appointments within the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. As a junior officer he served during the INTERFET deployment to East Timor in 1999-2000, followed by an appointment as the Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Craig holds a First Class Honours Degree in History, Masters qualifications in International Relations and Education, and a PhD in History. Prior to his appointment as Official Historian, Craig was a Professor of History at the University of New South Wales (Canberra). His areas of academic interest concern general and Australian military history and operational analysis.

Associate Professor Kevin Foster

Kevin is Associate Professor and Head of the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University. His current research focusses on social media and the military; photographers of Australia’s military history section in the Second World War, and Australian photo magazines 1939 – 1945. He has written extensively about the construction of national identity in literature, the media and in film, with a particular focus on conflict. His most recent book Don’t Mention the War: The Australian Defence Force, the Media and the Afghan Conflict offered a comprehensive analysis of how the Australian media covered the war in Afghanistan and the pressures that prevented them from reporting on the nation’s armed forces at war.


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