Dismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain, and the Great War
By: Joanna Bourke (Birbeck College, University of London)
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Some historians contend that femininity was "disrupted, constructed and reconstructed" during World War I, but what happened to masculinity? Using the evidence of letters, diaries, and oral histories of members...Read more
Some historians contend that femininity was "disrupted, constructed and reconstructed" during World War I, but what happened to masculinity? Using the evidence of letters, diaries, and oral histories of members of the military and of civilians, as well as contemporary photographs, "Dismembering the male" explores the impact of World War I on the male body. Joanna Bourke discovers that those who were dismembered and disabled by the war were not viewed as passive or weak, like their civilian counterparts, but were the focus of much government and public sentiment. Those suffering from disease were viewed differently, often finding themselves accused of malingering. Arguing that military experiences led to a greater sharing of gender identities between men of different classes and ages, Bourke concludes that, ultimately, attempts to reconstruct a new type of masculinity failed as the threat of another war, and with it the sacrifice of a new generation of men, intensified.
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