Stephens, David: Performing Anzac: Brendan Nelson and the emotion of remembrance

David Stephens*

Performing Anzac: Brendan Nelson and the emotion of remembrance‘, Pearls and Irritations. 27 August 2020

Brief analysis of the rhetorical style of the former War Memorial Director, provoked by his recent insertion of himself into the debate over the Memorial extensions. ‘In Dr Nelson’s case, we have: anecdotes standing in for evidence, emotive tropes encouraging the audience to forsake reason and go with the sentimental flow, and the suggestion that his personal tutoring could give a visitor to the Memorial a special insight.’

Compares Dr Nelson’s style with that of Turkish battlefield guides at Gallipoli, for whom the currency is a performance of memory rather than a lesson in history. Links to a remarkable series of photographs of Dr Nelson at full emotional throttle at the National Press Club and notes that he avoids the key questions like why nations go to war and whether it is worth it.

* David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website.

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