Date of Award

2019

First Advisor

David Baum

Second Advisor

Jamie Hutchinson

Abstract

The written portion of this thesis concerns Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in relation to the First World War, expressions of trauma, and the act of protest writing. In brief, it posits that the rapid acceleration of previously unimaginable technology lead to the widespread horrors of the First World War and the unprecedented rate of PTSD symptoms in its victims. Both Owen and Sassoon were treated for symptoms of neurasthenia (shell shock, or PTSD) and both wrote extensively on their experiences in the war. Their writing, namely in the form of poetry, served both as a means of protesting a war they saw as causing an unnecessary loss of life and as a manifestation of their own traumatic experiences and losses. Of particular interest is the interrelation between trauma, artistic expression of the “unspeakable,” and the power of narrative control. Both Owen and Sassoon focus on creating a poetic voice concerned with the “truth” of the war as they experienced it. The written portion also provides context for the creative element attached to this project: a film about Owen and Sassoon. The twenty six minute film encapsulates the time Owen and Sassoon spent at Craiglockhart war hospital, their meeting, friendship, and romantic engagement with one another. It is adapted from Stephen MacDonald’s stage play Not About Heroes , and features on location filming in both Edinburgh, Scotland, and Blodgett House and other locations on the Simon’s Rock Campus. It additionally utilizes footage from the First World War itself. The piece centers on several of the themes explored in the written portion, but opens itself to a further imagining of Owen and Sassoon as individuals.

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