This article examines how Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) is reimagined in two recent Australian young adult historical novels, David Metzenthen’s Black Water (2007) and Robert Newton’s When We Were Two (2012). Both novels are set during the First World War and participate in recent trends to recast the Australian soldier as victim. The authors’ use of trauma functions as a unifying force, enabling contemporary readers to feel some empathy for, and thus identify with, fictional soldiers. However, this use of trauma becomes problematic when it is figured as a male rite of passage, as trauma then functions to include certain masculinities while excluding other subjectivities. Moreover, while reframing the experience of war through the lens of trauma encourages reader identification with Anzac, it nevertheless effaces many of the social and political aspects of war, thereby promoting romanticized notions of war and providing only a superficial understanding of its causes.


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pp. 37-43
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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