Dismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain and the Great War

TitleDismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain and the Great War
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsBourke, Joanna
Number of Pages336
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press

Some historians contend that femininity was "disrupted, constructed, and reconstructed" during World War I, but what happened to masculinity? Using evidence of letters, diaries and oral histories of members of the military and of civilians, this volume explores the impact of the First World War on the male body. Each chapter explores a different facet of the war and masculinity in depth. The author concludes that those who were dismembered and disabled by the war were not viewed as passive or weak, like their civilian counterparts, but were the focus of much government and public sentiment. Those suffering from disease were viewed differently, often finding themselves accused of malingering. This volume also examines the way in which the war affected men socially. The absence of women encouraged male intimacy, but differences of class, regiment, religion, and ethnicity acted as barriers between men and the trauma of war and the constant threat of death did not encourage closeness. Attitudes to the dead male body, which during the war became the property of the state, are also explored. The author argues that military experiences led to a greater sharing of gender identities between men of different classes and ages. Post-war debates on what constitutes masculinity were fueled by the actions of men's movements. The volume concludes that ultimately, attempts to reconstruct a new type of masculinity failed as the threat of another war, and with it the sacrifice of a new generation of men, intensified.

Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Type of Literature:

Time Period:

Library Location: 
Call Number: