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Archive and Research Centre for Women's History

Archive and Research Centre for Women's History

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Gender@war? Men, women and the First World War

The collective memory of the First World War largely revolves around the frontline soldiers, with sometimes a small supporting role for the nurses. This easy dichotomy leaves little rooom for the many other roles men and women took on. The war experiences of men and women were often different, yet intertwined. Mobilisation, the violence of war, work on the home front, the search for intimacy through a conflict that separated loved ones … affected both men and women (and children).

In this lecture, we will confront the many positions of women and men during the First World War with ideal images and expectations about their role. This is done using a wealth of visual material such as posters, photographs, caricatures, quotes … from Belgium, Germany, France and Great Britain. The lecture focuses on the First World War as a “total war”, with a war and a home front that not only deployed men and women, but also masculinity and femininity.

The images shown during this lecture were used in the exhibition “Gender@war 1914-1948 : women and men to war“.