CD#22 – Have you had a Conversation yet?

The strapline of The Conversation is ‘Academic rigour, journalistic flair’. The publication describes itself as, ‘an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public’. When one is constantly being bombarded with allegations of ‘fake news’, it is reassuring to have a news source founded on academic research and thriving on academic debate. The Conversation aims to be just a source. Certainly, from the non-researcher’s perspective the content makes interesting reading – from the number of coffee shops in the UK to recognising ADHD in your child, to the fate of Mugabe. It’s now high up on The Castle Drum’s list of favourite reads.

So what about the publication from a researcher’s perspective? It’s probable that very few would dispute that research in and of itself is interesting, but research which has real-world impact has even greater value. The Conversation serves as a platform to ensure that academics, who have expertise built up through years of research, have a chance to deliver such impact, by providing data, analysis and evidence – not necessarily terms associated with today’s internet journalism.

In July, Queen’s became a founding member of The Conversation Canada. The publication launched in Australia in 2011 and has been around in the UK since 2013. Whether you publish in the Canadian or the UK edition, we would urge you to publish in The Conversation. It is an excellent, free source in which to publish your research and further your name as an expert in your field. As a moderated source there are guidelines to follow, but these are straightforward and eminently sensible in an academic environment. If you are interested in becoming an author, you can do so here.

Peter Lowe, Research Director and Associate Professor in English Literature, published an article in The Conversation UK back in January. He notes, ‘It’s an excellent forum for making academic research topical and accessible. Once your proposal has been accepted they’re very helpful with the process of getting your work up on the site, and I think there are many of us here [at the BISC] who could contribute both to the Canadian version and to the UK one, especially as Brexit-related news stories make discussions of ‘British identity’ in the world so topical.’

If you are interested in following Peter’s example, sign up as an author. And please don’t forget to tell The Castle Drum when you have published something – we’d love to tell everyone else!

»Starting a conversation since January 2017«

CD#21 – After Morgentaler – Rachael Johnstone’s new book

The Castle Drum are sure that all at the BISC will join us in congratulating Rachael Johnstone on the publication of her book: After Morgentaler: The Politics of Abortion in Canada, which was released by University of British Columbia Press last month.

The Crown versus Morgentaler was a case in 1988 in Canada in which a doctor (Morgentaler) challenged the Canadian Criminal Code’s requirement that any abortion carried out was done so in an approved hospital with the necessary certification from that hospital’s therapeutic abortion committee – a process which was inaccessible for many women. Morgentaler challenged the section of the Code in question, setting up a clinic that bypassed the process. Morgentaler won the case, and it is commonly held that the case established a right to abortion in Canada, but this is not necessarily accurate. In her book, Rachael looks at what access to abortion Canadian women have today and argues that genuine and complete access to abortion is essential for women’s equality.

Rachael teaches Politics and Gender Studies at the BISC. Both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees were in Political Studies and for her PhD she researched abortion access in Canada. This research provided the foundation for her monograph. She became interested in women’s rights, and specifically in access to abortion in Canada in her undergraduate degree, when reading about restrictive reproductive policies in other countries.

Research for the book took around five years, and from a complete manuscript to the finished product nine years have passed, a necessarily lengthy process of review, finalisation and then design. Rachael’s thrilled to finally see the book in print after such a long process, although she thinks being able to hold a copy is still a bit surreal.

For her next research project Rachael will be looking at the Canadian Drug Approval Process and its regulation of Mifegymiso – Canada’s new abortion drug. She’s also interested in the political implications of regulations on new reproductive technologies, like in vitro fertilization.

The Kindle version of the book is available on Amazon now, or if you wish to wait for the print version, this will available in March via Amazon, or you can read the copy held in the Library, if your patience is not that great…

»Published since January 2017«

CD#20 – Honouring the Fallen

On Remembrance Sunday, students from the BISC took a trip across the English Channel to Calais, to visit the nearby town of Arras and the surrounding Douai Plains. The Battle of Vimy Ridge, the bloody military engagement that came to define the Battle of Arras, took place there between Easter Monday 9th and 12th of April 1917.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial – Vimy Ridge

It is a battle of considerable significance for Canadians as it was the first occasion that all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drawn from all parts of their country, had fought as one.

The unified Canadian forces stormed a steep escarpment that had been under the control of the German 6th Army since 1914. It was a literal uphill battle against well dug-in defences and by the time the Canadian Corps had wrested control of the ridge, they had suffered some 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed in action and 7,004 wounded.

Today, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Canada’s largest overseas war memorial, sits at the highest point of the Vimy Ridge and commemorates not only the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but all Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War, including those with no known grave.

‘To the valour of their countrymen in The Great War and in memory of the 60,000 dead, this monument is raised by the people of Canada.’

The Castle Drum asked two students on the trip to share some of their thoughts and memories of the day:

Joshua Lu

‘I had heard of Vimy before, because we learn about it at school, so I was keen to go on the trip and see it for myself. The memorial was about a ten-minute walk from the Visitor Centre, but it can be seen from a great distance away – it really dominates the landscape! We all walked around it and took our own route, to explore and read the names inscribed there. It wasn’t until I received the pictures from my drone that I appreciated the scale of the battlefield. As it took off, I had a birds-eye view of the craters that the mortars had created. The sheer size of them cannot be appreciated from ground level. I got a real sense of the scale of destruction, and I think that will be my abiding memory of the trip.’

At the summit, the inscription reads, ‘The Canadian Corps on 9th April 1917 with four divisions in line on a front of 4 miles attacked and captured this ridge.’

Cheyenne Bates

‘I went on the trip to honour my Great Great Uncle, Lance Corporal Samuel Lyons, who died at the battle. He was 24. I went to Eastbourne the day before to buy flowers to take with me. The Visitor’s Centre was interesting and many of the staff there were Canadian students like us, on a Gap Year. It was a chilly, windy day, so as we walked along the lines of the trenches toward the top of the ridge it made me think of how miserable conditions must have been. At the memorial, I found my Great Great Uncle’s inscription and took photos for my family. In class, casualties are sometimes just a number in your mind, but seeing the long list of the names of the Fallen brought home a real sense of the human cost. Later, as I stood at the top of the ridge and looked back down the slope I thought of the Canadian troops. They must have felt so relieved to finally make it to the top and take the ridge, and yet it would have been a bitter-sweet victory given the losses they had suffered.’

The Vimy memorial dominates the landscape

The Castle Drum would like to thank Cheyenne and Joshua for allowing us to use their photos of the day. For more of Joshua’s drone footage, which also features many images of Herstmonceux Castle, please visit his Instagram page @joshualu98.

 

»The Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour, was awarded to no less than four members of the Canadian Corps for their actions at The Battle of Vimy Ridge.«

CD#19 – The BISC Remembers

On Saturday 11th November, the BISC hosted a Remembrance themed concert in aid of The Friends of East Sussex Association of Blind and Partially Sighted People. The Castle Choir, together with BISC Musicians in Residence, Diana Gilchrist (Soprano) and Shelley Katz (Piano) performed a range of popular music from World Wars 1 and 2.

The BISC Musicians in Residence – Shelley Katz and Diana Gilchrist

Diana Gilchrist said, ‘When planning any programme for the students, both Shelley and I feel that it is incredibly important that the music has a strong pedagogical aspect as well. In the weeks leading up to this concert we challenged the students to think hard about the words they were singing and ask themselves, with hindsight, how should these songs be sung? The students accepted the challenge with a genuine sense of empathy, for those going off to war and for those that they left behind, that I think certainly shone for all to see in their performances.’

The choir began in an upbeat way with a stomping rendition of Pack up your troubles. The energy and confidence of the piece channelled the sense of fanfare, camaraderie and patriotism that would have been used to send young men and women off to war. By contrast, the Chamber Choir’s beautiful rendition of Keep the Home Fire Burning moved some audience members to tears. Sadness was just as quickly replaced by laughter however, after the Men’s Choir’s hilarious showstopper, The Quartermaster’s Store.

Diana and students from the BISC Ladies’ Choir

The connection between the Castle Choir and audience was something that brought Diana great pleasure. Speaking afterwards she said, ‘The evening reiterated that great performance is a combination of three factors – the music, the performers and the audience. What we experienced on Saturday was truly a two-way communication, with the choir connecting with the audience in a very personal way.’

Diana believes the somewhat bizarre architecture of the performance space was an important factor. Those in attendance were seated in long rows in the castle’s Ballroom, meaning every member of the choir could make eye-contact with at least one member of the audience. For students from a generation where perhaps the world wars only exist in the movies, it was a chance to perform for an audience made up of people with personal memories of World War 2 – of being evacuated, and of saying goodbye to loved ones.

The evening begins with a rousing rendition of ‘Pack up your troubles’

The special atmosphere in the room was not lost on the students. First Year student Sara-Maya Kaba says, ‘After the performance, I was absent-mindedly looking around the room when an older gentleman’s gaze met with my own, and he came over to talk to me. He said, “These songs have no meaning to you – you weren’t alive during the war. But the way you all sang tonight, you wouldn’t be able to tell. It really brought me back, it was brilliant. Thank you.” The gratitude and happiness – if not awe in his voice is something that will stick with me forever.’

Mrs Shirley Price, Vice Patron of ESAB said afterwards, ‘I’m 85 and until I heard the Ladies’ Choir sing Johnny Canuck it had never occurred to me that Canadians have war songs too! Thank you for a most magnificent evening. You could not have put together a better, well balanced and more memorable concert if you had tried!’

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The ESAB is dedicated to making the lives of blind and partially sighted people in East Sussex richer and more independent. For more information, visit www.eastsussexblind.org

»There is music in the midst of desolation. And a glory that shines upon our tears. (For the Fallen – Robert L. Binyon)«