Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

Gender and the First World War:

Department

History Department

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

The First World War focused public attention world-wide on changing gender norms, and in the minds of many, turned gender roles topsy-turvy. From the popular American poster of a young, uniform-clad woman who exclaimed, Gee I wish I were a man to the British recruitment advertisement that asked men to contemplate how they would answer the question, Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War, propaganda materials around the globe highlighted gender as a source of motivation. The war itself disrupted conventional gender norms as women labored in farms and factories, as young men enlisted for martial service, and as a new age of industrial war challenged prior ideas of wartime heroism and valor. The silencing of the guns in 1918 continued discussions of gender norms as societies and nations renegotiated gender norms by confronting the wars varied legacies of suffrage, disability, and memorialization. Historians have investigated these, and many other aspects, of genders role in shaping the conduct and experiences of the First World War. And yet, while the historiography is vast on the subject, scholars continue to interrogate new areas of inquiry and to rethink old questions through new perspectives. The centennial of the wars outbreak offers a natural point to reconsider our understanding of genders functions during the war and to speculate on new directions for scholarship. This roundtable features three scholars whose works have shaped the study of gender and the war and whose current projects outline promising new avenues of investigation. While each scholar brings a particular expertise on a particular region and method of analysis, collectively they have framed the current historiography and represent great potential for future works. Jason Crouthamel, a scholar of German history during the war, will discuss his work on trauma, masculinity, and sexuality. His work highlights diverse perspectives on male gender ideals, including homosexual veterans constructions of comradeship, which help us understand the degree to which ordinary soldiers accepted hegemonic notions of masculinity. Additionally, he will address the challenges of locating archival sources that allow for investigation of the history of male emotions, heterosexuality, and homosexuality during the war. Susan R. Grayzel will turn our attention to questions of femininity, domesticity, and civil defense on the British homefront. While Professor Grayzels seminal work on gender, citizenship, and national identities has framed much of current scholarship on gender, her discussion will encourage the audience to consider womens wartime experiences in new ways and to move beyond archetypal explanations for their work and roles. Tammy M. Proctor brings a focus on the ways the war shaped the experiences of civilians on a number of homefronts. Her remarks will challenge our understanding of the divide between war and home, between masculine and feminine wartime service. Joshua A. Sanborn, who studies violence and identity in Russia during the war and has also written more broadly on war and gender in Europe, will chair the panel and facilitate audience discussion. Each scholar will speak briefly (10 minutes) on the state of the field with respect to her or his particular field of inquiry. More than offering a summary of scholarship, however, each scholar will outline potential new directions for research, unexplored areas of inquiry, and fresh perspectives on old topics. With each scholar speaking for a brief amount of time, the majority of the panel will focus on interaction with the audience and with each other. We envision the panel as a lively discussion in which audience members and panelists contemplate new studies of the role of gender in the war.

Conference Name

Transformational Conflicts: War and its Legacy through History

Conference Location

Kansas City Missouri

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