Carla-Jean Stokes:  Over the Top: Iconic Image or Staged Fake?


This talk explains the origins of one of the most iconic series of photographs taken during the First World War - Ivor Castle’s Over the Top. Although Over the Top was a series of staged photographs, they were passed off as genuine scenes of battle. This paper tracks the establishment of the Over the Top myth through a variety of primary sources, before sharing the ways in which historians have since pulled the myth apart.





Carla-Jean Stokes has a Masters of History from Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as a Masters of Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University. Carla-Jean won the 2015 Photographic Historical Society of Canada thesis prize for her paper, “British Official First World War Photographs, 1916-1918: Arranging and Contextualizing a Collection of Prints at the Art Gallery of Ontario,” later published in Photographic Canadiana. She has also written for the Laurier Centre for Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Legion and Espirit de Corps magazine, and has given talks on First World War photography throughout her home province of British Columbia, Canada. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Ryerson Image Centre’s Elaine Ling Fellowship for her project, "'Somewhere in France:' Contextualizing the Ryerson Image Centre’s Collection of Canadian First World War Photographs."