Thinking Sex After The Great War (UA / ULB / UGent)

17/10/2018 - 19/10/2018

The last few decades, the multifaceted relations between gender and the First World War have been explored in various historical studies. Historians have analysed the role of gender in the run-up to the outbreak of the war and in the war propaganda, they have depicted the gendered experience of the war by soldiers and civilians, and probed the ways in which the war challenged and blurred existing gender roles. Yet they have also described how the war in the end often seemed to reinforce gender stereotypes. Throughout this rich literature, the question of the impact of the war on gender relations often resurfaces, although most scholars seem to agree that a definitive and general answer on the ‘net result’ of the war in terms of increasing or decreasing equality, is hard to reach and probably beside the point.

This conference will reflect on the impact of the Great War on gender from the angle of learned discourses. Intellectuals, social scientists, physiologists, psychologists … witnessed and experienced the war personally. Some of them were integrated in the military war machine (either as ‘common’ soldiers, officers or experts), while others stayed at home and continued their jobs, or registered themselves as ‘conscientious objectors’ and explicitly opposed the war. Like other citizens, they lost family members and friends, experienced love and desire, excitement and disillusionment. These experiences inevitably impacted upon their view of society, human nature and the role of the sexes and sexuality. The conference focuses on their discourses, during and after the war, on the 'gender impact' of the conflict and on how the war reinforced, challenged or changed research agendas, paradigms and knowledge about gender and sexuality.

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Plaats en tijdstip

Royal Library

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