The Wartime Gender Contract & the Combat Taboo in 20th century Britain.

Why can't women pull the trigger? Why are men who refuse to fight labelled cowards? The experience of total war in the twentieth century has had major implications for understandings of both masculinity and femininity in war and in peace. In this module you’ll examine the experience of war on both the home and the battlefronts in Britain and learn how war both confirmed and challenged existing gender constructions.

Through an examination of gender roles in war and the representations of these in cartoons, films and posters, you’ll explore how war impacted on understandings of gender identities in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the First and Second World Wars. Themes include industrial and military contributions to the war effort, the relationship between the Home Front and the Battle Front, social change, as well as the combat taboo. In seminars you’ll contrast the expectations of men and women at war with actual practices by those conforming to or transgressing conventional gender roles.