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A crisis of masculinity? Re-writing the history of shell-shock and gender in First World War Britain

Loughran, Tracey Louise ORCID: 2013. A crisis of masculinity? Re-writing the history of shell-shock and gender in First World War Britain. History Compass 11 (9) , pp. 727-738. 10.1111/hic3.12082

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Provisional Abstract: Shell-shock is a powerful symbol of the devastating effects of the First World War on men. Until recently, scholars of gender and trauma tended to follow the lines established by Elaine Showalter’s interpretation of shell-shock as a crisis of masculinity. However, over the past decade, historians have investigated different aspects of war trauma, and have placed it in different social and cultural contexts. This essay examines recent histories of masculinity and male war experience, and discussions of female war trauma and military nursing. It argues that historically and historiographically, shell-shock has been defined as a masculine illness, and this constitutes a ‘blind spot’ in historical discourse. Historians must explicitly articulate and justify their definitions of war trauma, incorporate the possibility of female trauma into their histories, and move beyond gender to explore the multiple contexts within which contemporaries understood trauma.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1478-0542
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 11:30

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