Women and the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex 1907-1948
Noakes, Lucy (2006) Women and the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex 1907-1948 Routledge, UK. ISBN 0415390575
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Part of an established enquiry by a recognised scholar within the field of twentieth-century women’s cultural experience and representation in wartime, Noakes's substantial research monograph examines the role of women working with the British Army between 1907 and 1948. Based on original primary research in archives, including those at the Imperial War Museum, the National Army Museum, the National Archives, the Women’s Library, the House of Commons Library and the British Library, Women in the British Army is the first book-length publication to focus on the work of women with the British Army, making it an essential reference point for scholars in this field of enquiry. Noakes places women’s work with the British Army within its historical context, exploring the relationship between gender roles and the military across a period spanning two world wars and shifting attitudes towards gender roles. She argues that women in military uniform challenged traditional notions of gender by unsettling the masculine territory of warfare, examining the ways in which the state attempted to manage this threat whilst drawing on women’s labour. Whilst other historians and theorists have discussed the relationship between women and total war, this is the first study both to focus on women’s role with the military and to examine this relationship in peacetime as well as in war. Supported by an AHRC Research Leave Award (2005), the book was reviewed in the journal History (Vol. 92, No. 306, 2007) where it was described as ‘providing a much needed overview of women’s roles’ (Louise A. Jackson, 2007, Women in the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex 1907-1948 by Lucy Noakes, History, 92 (306) p. 271) which demonstrated convincingly ‘that military discourses played a crucial role in the construction of male and female identities in the first half of the twentieth century’.
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