As part of a week of Remembrance events marking Armistice Day on 11 November. Dr Matt Leonard delivered a lecture called ‘Poppyganda’ to look at the history of the ‘poppy’ as a symbol of remembrance.
Dr Matthew Leonard is a modern conflict archaeologist and also a lecturer of Anthropology at Cirencester College. Matt is also a widely published author both commercially and academically and has contributed to numerous television documentaries on various aspects of the First World War.
One of his books ‘Poppyganda’ was published last year and takes a look at the role of the ‘poppy’ through history to the present day.
Explains Matt, ‘The poppy is the enduring symbol of the First World War, an object that embodies a hundred years of attitudes towards the world’s first great conflict. Yet the flower’s association with warfare pre-dates 1914 and its legacy continues today. An intensely powerful object, it has been appropriated by many, employed to justify war and to highlight its futility. All objects have a biography and the poppy’s is one as gallant as any from the war. Yet as we enter a world dominated by social media and 24hr news broadcasts, the poppy is again becoming politicized, publicized, diminished and reified.’
Matt delivered a thought provoking lecture to a packed audience of students and staff to make them think about what the poppy means to them. Is there still a place for it in society? Is it misused for political gains or do we use other forms of remembrance in today’s social media society?
In the studio behind the theatre students and staff also had an opportunity to to spend 5 minutes to experience the Trench Soundscape Experience which helps educate students of the realities of World War I.
The Week of Remembrance ended on Friday 11 November as hundreds of students gathered for Armistice Day at 11am around the College’s own cenotaph. See link https://www.cirencester.ac.uk/2016/11/11/students-and-staff-remember-together-at-cirencester-sixth-form-college/