Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.736053
Title: "[I am] unable to refuse the call of these pages to be scribbled in" : the function of First World War life-writing
Author: Martin, Nancy Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 9786
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Abstract:
Drawing on a diverse collection of both published and unpublished First World War diaries and letters, this thesis investigates the role of composition in war, examining the ways in which the act of writing itself - imposing narrative order on chaotic experience - functions in creating, securing, and repairing one's multiple identities in war. Indeed, through narration, the individual can connect to, challenge, or reconfigure, the war's prescribed social scripts - of soldier, nurse, spouse, parent, and/or patriotic citizen. This process or writing, and thereby re-asserting, one's identity was a fundamental component of men and women's emotional survival. In the midst of the First World War's chaos, life-writing held heightened significance on both home and battlefront. The diary and letter were appropriate generic vehicles through which men and women could express and negotiate the new facets and fragments of self; they were also sites where different social scripts could be tried and rehearsed, and venues for the navigation of war's trauma, suffering, and grief. Through the act of writing, the individual imposes some level of control over this otherwise chaotic experience. The 'I' on the page - whatever the length or descriptive quality of the words that surround it - is an assertion of the individual in a culture of sweeping propagandist claims, mass movement, and mass death. By putting pen to paper, the newly enlisted man could attempt to navigate the seemingly rapid transition from ordinary civilian to heroic soldier; the home front mother could confess fears and frustrations on the diary page, in turn mitigating grief and navigating the sense of self - as mother, as wife, as patriotic citizen - in the face of loss; from his trench, the frontline combatant could find distraction and escape through writing a letter home. The civilian man, in turn, could seek refuge in the diary's pages - his search to secure and validate alternate forms of ‘manliness' often being particularly fraught.
Supervisor: Marcus, Laura Sponsor: Rothermere Foundation ; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.736053  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature and Life-Writing ; Gender Studies ; World War (1914-1918) ; Diary ; British Literature ; Letter ; Medical Humanities ; Trauma ; Identity ; Cognitive psychology ; First World War
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