Brotherly love in the Great War

Maynard,, Linda Helen (2018) Brotherly love in the Great War. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis examines emotional relationships between brothers during the First World War through an exploration of personal narratives, oral histories, and military service tribunal records. Brothers have largely been ignored as a subject of historical analysis. The prevailing ‘vertical’ focus on the mother-son bond and maternal grief has edged male siblinghood to the perimeter of wartime and domestic masculinities. Fraternal stories are embedded in the narrative of the Great War, informing our understanding of the network of domestic ties sustaining men, and the performance of wartime masculinities. The thesis begins by analysing fraternal interchanges woven into the daily practices of late-Victorian and Edwardian family life. During the Great War, men separated by the conflict strove to maintain their fraternal relationships through letters and personal visits. They continued to act as companions, confidants, protectors, breadwinners, advisors, surrogate father figures, and role models to their siblings. When conscription was introduced many brothers acted in unison when requesting exemptions to protect their familial and business responsibilities. Fraternal togetherness is embedded in the wartime experiences of many men; a fact obscured by the privileging of military comradeship. This study explores expressions of brotherly ‘love’ by considering fraternal interactions at the transitional moment of departing for war and during combat. It concludes that brotherly relationships were significant, providing men with emotional and practical sustenance. Cherished nostalgic memories of shared childhood experiences and landscapes widen our understanding of what ‘home’ meant to serving men. Brothers enlisted and served together: benefiting from companionship and support but suffering when faced with sibling deaths and woundings. Many fraternal accounts can be categorised as ‘grief narratives’, confounding stereotypes of male stoicism. Brotherly loss unleashed powerful emotions: grief, anger and guilt. Surviving brothers often acted as ‘memory keepers’; circumventing the anonymisation of the dead in public commemorations by restoring the individual and particular war stories of their brothers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2018 13:00
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2018 13:00
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/343

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