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Gender, Grief, and Bereavement in Second World War Britain

Noakes, L (2015) 'Gender, Grief, and Bereavement in Second World War Britain.' Journal of War and Culture Studies, 8 (1). 72 - 85. ISSN 1752-6272

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Abstract

This article examines the extent to which we can understand the emotional economy of mid-twentieth-century Britain, and in particular how, in wartime, the articulation and management of grief was gendered. After tracing the development of a discourse of stoicism and emotional restraint in the inter-war years, the article goes on to examine representations of responses to sudden death in a range of wartime cultural texts. Arguing that self-control, stoicism, and privileging the needs of the wartime community over the needs of the individual were widely posited as the best means of overcoming grief, the article finds that women were specifically advised that restrained self-management was the most patriotic response to bereavement, advice driven both by women's primary historical role as mourners and also by a long-standing understanding of women as being especially likely to be overwhelmed by their emotions. In conclusion, it suggests that while the emotional economy of mid-century Britain may have been successful in terms of enabling the British people to ‘carry on’ during a long and arduous war, it left a legacy of wartime loss that was to be felt for years to come.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: air raids, bereavement, mourning, death, gender, grief, Second World War
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2017 11:44
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2017 11:44
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20811

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