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In the shadow of war: continuities and discontinuities in the construction of the masculine identities of British soldiers, 1914-1924

In the shadow of war: continuities and discontinuities in the construction of the masculine identities of British soldiers, 1914-1924

Millman, Margaret (2002) In the shadow of war: continuities and discontinuities in the construction of the masculine identities of British soldiers, 1914-1924. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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The upheavals of the cataclysm of the First World War reverberated through every comer of British society, how society was reconstructed afterwards is the subject of
enormous critical debate. This study examines how masculinities were disrupted and. reconstructed during and after the war. It is a study of British men, previously civilians, who became servicemen in the First World War. It aims to map the continuities and discontinuities in the construction of their masculine identities during war and in its aftermath in the 1920s.

Pioneered by feminist scholars concerned with analysing the historical construction of femininity, the study of gender relations has become a significant area of historical
enquiry. This has resulted in a substantial body of historical scholarship on the history of masculinities and the increasing visibility of men as gendered subjects whose masculinities are lived and imagined. This thesis is informed by, and engages with, the histories of masculinities. It also draws on recent historical research on the cultural legacy of the war.

The first chapter explores the subjectiver esponsesto becoming a soldier through an examination of personal memoirs; largely unpublished sources drawn from memories and written or recorded by men as narratives of their wartime experiences. The subject of the second chapter is shell shock. The outbreak of shell shock among the troops aroused anxieties about masculinity. The competing versions of masculinities which emerged in military and medical discourses is examined. Returning to individual memoirs, the chapter examines how men produced their own representations of the shell shocked man contesting other versions. Chapters 3 and 4 focus their attention on the relatively neglected subject of ex-servicemen's organisations and the collectivities of ex-servicemen. During and after the war a movement of ex-servicemen emerged to campaign for justice and fair treatment. Comradeship underpinned the attempt to forge an ex-serviceman identity and an examination of veterans' publications, a largely neglected source, has revealed the tensions and conflicts which contested this form of masculine identity. Masculine identities, as citizens and workers, presented a challenge to the potential for a unified, apolitical movement. Unemployment was a challenge to male identities traditionally secured through work and masculine codes of independence.

Unlike many studies, this thesis intentionally straddles war and peace. It begins in 1914 and ends a decade later in a society restored to peace but still essentially in the shadow of war.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: first world war, Britain, society, masculinity, feminism, civilians, gender relations, war, memoirs, servicemen, military,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Social, Political & Cultural Studies
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2018 13:15

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