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UAL Research Online

Representations of soldiering: British army uniform and the male body during the First World War

Tynan, Jane (2009) Representations of soldiering: British army uniform and the male body during the First World War. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Tynan, Jane

This thesis explores the role of First World War British army clothing to the representation and experience of men through popular culture, official regulations and personal accounts. The aims of the research are threefold. Firstly, it examines how mass mobilisation altered sources and systems of army clothing supply to consider how large-scale production and consumption shaped masculine identities. Secondly, the thesis argues that khaki service dress was part of the iconography of war, a visible signifier of active military participation and object of evocation and memory. Finally, it explores tensions between individual experience and collective myth to consider the role of clothing practices to the formation of ideas about gender, class and the relationship between the body and technology
during the First World War.

The discussion explores themes of gender and visuality through a focused analysis of the ways in which British army uniform was worn, promoted and made between 1914-1918. It shows how the specific design of khaki service dress drew attention to the body, created illusions of corporeal durability and suggested equality through an aesthetic of standardisation. The work of Michel Foucault is used to consider how cultural practices shape objects, specifically in relation to disciplinary techniques and gendered practices in military culture. The thesis shows how the service dress enabled techniques for body discipline and standardisation, but also how its role in military discourses perpetuated the fiction of a singular and uniform masculinity. Thus, the research explores the formation of meaning of army clothing in wartime through popular representations, but tests their reliability against a range of other kinds of sources such as personal accounts, production processes, trade organisation and official regulations. As clothing links a number of related concerns, the thesis uses uniform to establish a dialogue between formerly discrete disciplines, in particular, military history, social history and cultural studies. This exploration of the significance of military uniform, an object experienced by a wide range of social groups, contributes to current debates about British popular culture during the First World War.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

The full text of this thesis has been restricted at the request of the author.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: First World War, uniform, military history, masculinity,
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: 2009
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2013 16:30
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2024 11:46
Item ID: 5656
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/5656

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