The purpose of this paper is to explore the educative experiences of Arthur Wesley Wheen – his socialisation and indoctrination within a devout family, on the one hand, and his elite classical schooling on the other hand. Such influences laid the seeds of internal conflict and were compounded at Teachers College, the Arts Faculty of the University of Sydney and at New College Oxford. It is argued that profound educative influences and the trauma of First World War shaped and redefined his life, work and personality as a scholar, cultural critic and translator. The impact of the curriculum and ethos of elite schooling on life interests is a major theme. Attempts will be made to discover from the vast mosaic of classical learning what eventually became inscribed on Wheen’s psyche.
In this paper the author uses a critical biographical and life-study approach in the broad parameters of historical research by a close examination of primary and secondary sources including a rich vein of correspondence and related unpublished writings; school, teachers college and university records, battalion and personal war records and published literature, frequently contemporary in nature. In design subtle iconographic and psychoanalytic nuances will be drawn from the raw material of history.
This research is intended to demonstrate how the traumatic requirements of a frontline soldier affected a profound disillusionment with imperial institutions. The study attempts to show how Wheen lost his religious convictions in the heat of total war and later became a passionate expatriate pacifist, social theorist and scholar. It is intended to reveal the complex layers of personal conviction. The author glances at the literary impact of AW Wheen’s translation of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and the Hollywood film version in terms of his contribution that has not been well recognised.
The paper demonstrates how educative experiences led to significant literary outcomes and how elite classical educative forces shaped style and scholarly endeavour. It draws from history, theology, education and cultural studies and synthesises them.
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