Dr Lester James Mason
Doctor Lester Mason Diploma in European Humanities, B.A. Hons, PhD
Lecturer in Modern History
I have recently been made a Programme Director on the Undergraduate Programme of Study at Lampeter, responsible for the day-to-day running of, amongst others, the following programmes - B.A. History, B.A. Medieval Studies, B.A. Modern Historical Studies, B.A. Conflict and War. I am also a Module convener on a number of Undergraduate B.A. Courses, at Level 4, 5, and 6. These include Britain and the Great War, and Civil Disobedience Britain and Europe 1750-1990 at Level 6; Modern Britain 1776-1997 at Level 5; Warfare: Theory, Strategy and Ethics at Level 4. I also contribute to a number of other B.A. Programme courses at Level 4, 5, and 6. Additionally, I contribute to the Postgraduate programme of study, including on the Integrated Masters – M.A. Hist programme.
Diploma in European Humanities (The Open University) (1999)
B.A. Hons (The Open University) Humanities (1999)
PhD (Wales) (2009)
I gained a B.A. Honours (First-Class) in Humanities with the Open University in 1999, after twenty years working for the Navy Department. In 2000 I registered on the M.Phil programme at Lampeter, and in 2004 this was upgraded to a PhD, which I attained in 2009. Since 2004 I have worked as a Teacher and Lecturer, initially within the History Department at Lampeter, but latterly in the School of Archaeology, History, and Anthropology. My degree profile reflects a broad knowledge of Modern British and European History from the 18th Century to the 1950s, and covers social, political as well as cultural themes. It also highlights a high standard of study, as well as hard work, which was rewarded with first-class honours. This knowledge has been enhanced by my recent research work, which was rewarded with a PhD in 2009. My research concentrated on events following the Great War, as they impacted upon west Wales. I have produced a number of articles relating to post 1918 commemoration and memorialisation practices in west Wales, and presented a number of academic papers on this subject; details are furnished below.
As stated above, my degree profile reflects a broad knowledge of Modern British and European History from the 18th Century to the 1950s, and covers social, political as well as cultural themes. From this, my academic interests and the subjects I teach and have previously taught reflect this broad interest and knowledge. They range from Britain and the Great War, to the Enlightenment - Europe in 1700-1830, to the Rise and Fall of a Great Power: Britain 1776-1997, to Exploring the Region: a comparative study of the rural and urban communities of west Wales. Others modules I have taught include: Themes and Theories in Humanities and The Irish Question 1885-1998. In more recent years I have contributed to the Conflict and War programme at Lampeter, including the module - Warfare: Theory, Strategy, and Ethics. This reflects a more specific interest relating to Conflict and War themes, and in particular war memory and how that is manifested through acts of commemoration and memorialisation at both a national and local level. This has invariably drawn me towards Great War studies in general, both the war period, but also its causes, and its aftermath. This is reflected in the lead course I convene at Year 6 level – Britain and the Great War. It is also a reflection of my studies at post-graduate level – the subject matter for my Doctorate was Commemoration and Memorialisation in west Wales following 1918, where I studied how and why communities remembered their war dead.
Following on from this, my primary research interests relate to west Wales and the impact that fighting ‘Total War ‘ had on the towns, villages and religious communities in the three counties of Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, and Carmarthenshire . I primarily concentrate on World War One, but not exclusively so, as research into acts of commemoration and memorialisation tend to lead to other conflicts, including the Crimean War, the Boer War , and World War Two. Marking the centenary of World War One has put the spotlight on this area of research, and has meant increased involvement with on-line academic sites relating to Britain and the Great War, as well as demands to address history societies, interest groups, etc. I have also contributed, as an historic adviser, to the BBC World War One centenary programme. I have also published a number of articles relating to war commemoration in west Wales, details of which are set out below
Primarily, my expertise relates to The Great War and west Wales, and in particular war commemoration and memorialisation. During my post-graduate research, and indeed since, I have acquired an extensive knowledge of the commemoration process in west Wales, and indeed of the plethora of memorials that remain with us today. This includes the decision-making process behind their instigation and the changing nature and meaning around the language and iconography associated with such sites. I also possess an extendive knowledge of the impact of fighting the war had on the communities of west Wales, both on the home front, and on those who left their homes to fight. More generally, my interest in war and conflict has led to an extensive knowledge of World War One, its history and indeed its rich and evolving historiography.
As already stated, the centenary commemoration of the Great War has meant an increase in public interest in the conflict, and has meant a number of speaking and lecture dates for different interest groups, including History Societies. Most significantly, in 2014 I was chosen as a Historical Adviser for the BBC as part of the World War One centenary commemorations. This led to engagements in Cardiff, Bristol, and Gloucester ; meeting the public and giving expert advice on the First World War.
'The story behind the Pembrokeshire County Great War Memorial at Haverfordwest', The Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society, No 22 (2013), pp.51-60.
‘Is it nothing to you, all ye who pass by?’ – Commemorating the Great War in Ammanford, 1920-1937, Llafur – Journal of Welsh People’s History, Volume 11, No 1, (December 2012), pp.49-62.
'Communities in mourning - commemoration in West Wales following the Great War' (unpublished PhD thesis, Lampeter, 2009).
‘The Boys’ – The Story of the young men of Maenclochog who fell in the Great War’, in Past and Present in Bro Maenclochog: Essays from the Preseli Hills, ed. Hefin Wyn. (Clychau Clochog, 2006).
Conferences and Seminar Papers:
2014. The Origins of 11/11 – Reading the Cenotaph and the Rituals of Remembrance. Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts, Research Seminar Series Lecture, commemorating the Great War Centenary, 12th November 2014.
2013. Addressing the Great War: War Memorial unveiling speeches in West Wales, 1919-1925. University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Research Seminar series, 27th March 2013.
2011. The Anatomy of a War Memorial: The story of Lampeter’s khaki-clad soldier. The Culture of Things. University of Trinity St David, 25th May 2011.
2010. Reading a War Memorial: William Goscombe John and the Lampeter soldier. University of Trinity St David, Institute of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, 17th February 2010.
AHRC Funded programmes:
2014 – BBC World War One at Home Project (Nations call – Our Place in the First World War). Academic Researcher/Historical Advisor to BBC Wales on specialist subjects and ideas relating to World War One and its impact on the Home Front in Wales.