French Women and the First World War: War Stories of the Home Front

Overview

Despite acts of female heroism, popular memory, as well as official memorialization in monuments and historic sites, has ignored French women's role in the First World War. This book explores stories that were never told and why they were not. These include the experiences of French women in the war, the stories they themselves told about these experiences and how French society interpreted them.

The author examines the ways French women served their country - from charity work,...

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Overview

Despite acts of female heroism, popular memory, as well as official memorialization in monuments and historic sites, has ignored French women's role in the First World War. This book explores stories that were never told and why they were not. These include the experiences of French women in the war, the stories they themselves told about these experiences and how French society interpreted them.

The author examines the ways French women served their country - from charity work, nursing and munitions manufacture to volunteering for military service and espionage. In tracing stories about war heroines, but also about villainesses like Mata Hari, this fascinating study shows what these stories reveal about French understanding of the war, their hopes and fears for the future. While the masculine war story was unitary and unchanging, the feminine story was multiple and shifting. Initially praised for their voluntary mobilization, women's claims of patriotism were undercut by criticisms as the war bogged down in the trenches. Were nurses giving solace or seeking romance? Were munitions workers patriots or profiteers? The prosecutions of Mata Hari for espionage and HÈl'ne Brion for subversion show how attitudes to women's claim of patriotism changed. French women's relationship to the war called into question ideas about gender, definitions of citizenship and national identity.

This book is the first study of women at war to treat both their experiences and its representations, which shaped nationalism, war and gender for the rest of the twentieth century. It makes an important contribution to the burgeoning history of collective memory and of the First World War.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Darrow succeeds in recapturing the lost female voices of the Great War. Her attempt to rescue them from oblivion is a helpful contribution to the history of collective memory and the French experience of war." —Times Literary Supplement

"This book represents a very useful resource for those interested in the history, gendered or otherwise, of the First World War, presenting as it does a vast range of important and interesting information and analysis in one volume." —Modern and Contemporary France

"This impressive and well-written study of French women is a valuable contribution to the continuing expansion of knowledge of what is still known in Europe as the 'Great War'." —Choice

"A welcome addition to recent historiography of the First World War." —War in History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859733660
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Legacy of the Great War Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
1 Woman and War 1
2 Women's War Imagined: 1871-1914 21
3 The Mobilization of Femininity 53
4 War Heroines/War Victims 98
5 White Angels of the Battlefield 133
6 French Women in the War Economy 169
7 "I Want To Be Militarized" 229
8 The Enemy Was a Woman 268
Conclusion 309
Select Bibliography 318
Index 335
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