Penning their personal narratives: the letters, diaries and logbooks of British prisoners of war held in Europe in the Second World War.
14 Nov 2017, 17:30 to 14 Nov 2017, 19:30
IHR Peter Marshall Room, N204, Second Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Clare Makepeace , Birkbeck, University of London
For scholars researching what life was like in wartime captivity, the personal narratives composed by prisoners of war are a vital and enlightening read, upon which a multitude of histories have been based. However, too often historians have treated those narratives as straightforward records of experience. This paper discusses the different types of personal narratives composed by POWs: diaries, letters, logbooks and memoirs. It shows how experiences are written up differently in each these sources and will argue that to assume diaries or letters form single and separate genres, as historians often do, is arbitrary and unhelpful. This paper will be relevant to historians researching experiences in warfare as well as anyone interested in accounts of everyday life.
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