Chapter 20: Abstract

States, Military Masculinities, and Combat in the Age of World Wars

Thomas Kühne (Clark University, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies)

In Oxford Handbook of Gender, War, and the Western World since 1600, ed. by Karen Hagemann et al. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 498-518.


In the age of the two World Wars, traditional concepts of exclusive and heroic masculinity gave way to inclusive, protean masculinities. Their fabric as tutorials for coping with the emotional, moral, and physical challenges of total war allowed for the integration of soldiers with different personalities and different social backgrounds into the cohesive face-to-face combat group that proved crucial for the fighting morale of modern armies. While men within these homo-social groups could perform a broad range of seemingly contradictory, manly and femininely coded emotions and practices, these groups yet relied on the exclusion of women. This chapter tracks representations and experiences of military masculinities in the first half on the twentieth century and compares the developments in Europe and the United States.


World War I and  II; Europe; United States; combat; comradeship; military masculinities; race; sexuality; gender.

In Part III: "The Age of the World Wars" of the Oxford Handbook of Gender, War and the Western World since 1600.

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