Gendering Remembrance: The Home Front in Contemporary Media and Community Engagement with the First World War

Here is the abstract for Professor Maggie Andrews’ keynote address, which will close the conference on 27 February 2016:

First World War Remembrance was perhaps once, for many, associated with war memorials, battlefields and poppies. Yet in the World War One Commemoration the Home Front is taking a central place within both popular consciousness and the plethora of: museum exhibitions, publications, heritage lottery funded projects and media. The consequent attention being given to the lives of women and families, once: ‘hidden from history’ has received criticism from some traditional historians of war and conflict; yet perhaps it is an indication of shifting cultural attitudes to: war, women or even domesticity.  Alternatively it could be symptomatic of the need to attract audiences, by what have sometimes been referred to as ‘War Industries’.

Television and radio’s domestic consumption, its feminine concern with the private sphere and personal lives structures its mode of communication, discourses and iconography which make up the lexicon of images through which war is portrayed.  In the 130 WWI programmes commissioned by BBC there has also been a strong local focus, mirroring that of many:  amateur History groups, organisations receiving Heritage Lottery Fund grants and regional museums. This paper will interrogate these recent phenomenon, questioning whether they suggest a democratizing of remembrance or they may serve to make the horrors of war more palatable.

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