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Title: Beyond home : housewives and the nation, private and public identities 1939-1949
Author: Purcell, Jennifer Jill
ISNI:       0000 0001 3502 9362
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2008
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The experience of total war and reconstruction in 1940s Britain brought the idea of the nation to the forefront of public consciousness. At the same time, the day-to-day, often mundane, routines of life continued as people negotiated their lives and relationships, experiencing personal struggles, triumphs and tragedies. This thesis explores tve broad social and cultural experiences of the national endeavours of the 1940s, as well as everyday lives and identities, through the life writing of seven women. I argue that the broad forces of history and identity, in particular ideas of nation and gender, impacted people's lives; but individuals equally interpreted and shaped these forces for themselves as they attempted to make sense of their own lives and experiences. Therefore in this thesis, I consider both the cultural discourses of nation and domesticity and the private experiences of the same, balancing the two against each other. . This thesis argues that while societal discourses and expectations of domesticity during this period were powerfully salient for women, they were not always captive to this ideology. Instead, while some felt enslaved in a cage of domesticity, some found empowering spaces within domesticity, others manipulated it for their own benefits and still others rejected it entirely. Additionally, domesticity did not wholly circumscribe women's lives or identities. During the war and immediate postwar period, the nation was also powerfully evident in their everyday lives and identities, and in fact, with the elevation of domesticity to national importance at this time, domesticity as national service could further bolster a feeling of empowerment in some women. As a result housewives' lives did not revolve entirely on their private,experiences ofhome and family, but also on broader communal, national, and international forces which were equally crucial in the shaping of their experiences and identities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available