‘There are no men here, so why should I be a woman?’ - Franse en Angelsaksische verpleegsters in hun omgang met gewonde soldaten en lichamelijkheid tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437


In this article the cultural reaction of French and Anglo-Saxon voluntary nurses to the impact of the First World War on the soldier’s body is analyzed by means of a discourse analysis of their (wartime) writings. It enriches the historiography that successfully corrects and deconstructs the traditional view of the Great War as a male-only, trench-fighter’s war. The descriptions and meanings given to the bodies are related to the identities of the authors. Both French and Anglo-Saxon nurses use two seemingly contradictory discourses. On the one hand they reveal the horrors of war by describing the bodies as maimed. On the other hand they idealize and masculinize the wounded body; it is represented as the site through which masculine identity is performed and thus constructed. The flip side of this representation is that the nurses appropriate an eternal femininity. This general tendency contrasts with the exceptional writings of three nurses: Enid Bagnold, Ellen La Motte, and Mary Borden, who deliver potent critiques of war and war nursing and contest the gendered war ideology by questioning (or even negating) ‘the male body’ and conventional notions of masculinity and femininity.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): discoursanalyse; Eerste Wereldoorlog; lichamelijkheid; mannelijkheid; verpleegkundigen
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