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Title: Lives less ordinary : North West women's narratives of world war two
Author: Phillips, Patricia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2678 5264
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis is an inter-disciplinary study of a group of north-west women's narratives of World War Two. It examines the private memories and oral history narratives of ordinary, working women. These personal narratives are contextualised by the dominant public narratives of the war as defined in popular memory, fictive and 'factual' commemorative depictions, and as debated by both popular and scholarly writers. The thesis explores the hypothesis that constructions of personal narratives of the war are influenced by dominant public narratives of World War Two in Britain. This was found to be the case to a more limited extent than might be imagined and was only demonstrated to a small degree. The conclusion drawn was that some 'public' versions of events are effaced or ignored because of class, regional and gender factors, or through the added 'interference' of powerful emotional memories. The thesis explores the testimonies through a range of interdisciplinary theoretical and narrative approaches to examine both confirmations and challenges to the central hypothesis. Strongly influenced by feminist research and by narrative and biographical approaches in cultural studies, the idea of intersubjectivity is a central component of the analysis. The stories were influenced intersubjectively on several levels, including the effects of dominant popular memory and discourses of World War Two, the intersection of public narrative and personal emotional memories, and the intersubjective nature of the interview process. Regional factors were stressed in many of the narratives, affected in part by my intersubjective input as insider/ outsider researcher, which resulted in a prominent Manchester narrative strand In its use of an interdisciplinary narrative framework this research contributes to the analytical and interpretive possibilities currently debated in oral history, including debates about traditional history, the decline of 'master narratives', the rise of 'microhistory' and the recognition of a shift in oral history from arguments about validity to the significance of subjectivities, narrative and culture. In recording original interviews it adds to the Northern collections of oral histories of women commonly 'voiceless' or marginal in traditional history. By examining narrative, memory, gender and intersubjectivity in these oral history accounts, the research adds to the corpus of work in oral history and on Women in World War Two. It highlights some of the complexities of memory, both public and private, and specifically notes the significance of regional, intersubjective, emotional and idiosyncratic elements in the construction of women's personal narratives, in contrast to expectations raised by dominant memories of national events. It emphasises the significance of traditional and regional working and family practices in the construction of wartime narratives. This contributes particularly to new interpretations of "muted' versions of national events, and the more mundane narratives of wartime that fall between the 'heroic' and "stoic' ends of the spectrum.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available