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the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars by dramatically reducing the number of female camp followers in wartime. In peacetime they tried more rigidly than before to control the marriage of soldiers, and through various means constricted the economic and social rights of soldiers' wives and children. Therefore, the nineteenth century for the first time saw ‘all-male-armies’ with soldiers – either professionals or conscripts - living together in barracks during peacetime.  The introduction of general conscription also had far reaching consequences for the gender structure of the political order, because the duty to protect home and country and political rights, inter alias the right to vote, were closely related, and women consequently found themselves relegated to the status of second class citizens.  

The twentieth century, marked by the far-reaching devastation of the First (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945) appears in the course as the century of industrialized and ‘total’ warfare.  Here again the changes in the relationships between military and civil society, between home and front, and between men and women will play an important role.  During the First, but in particular during the Second World War, the ‘home front’ had to be mobilized by all major war powers in an unprecedented way.  All parts of society were expected to work in one way or the other to support the war, whether on the battlefield, on the factory floor, or within the home. At the same time, civilians- mainly women and children - became more and more the targets of twentieth century warfare.  This development culminated during World War II in the bombing of cities and in the Holocaust, which would have not been possible without the context of war.  Finally, the course will be concerned with the consequences of these global conflicts for the gender relations in Western post-1945 societies.

Three main questions will frame the course:


How major changes in the military system and warfare affected civil society, in particular the gender order, i.e. the norms and concepts of femininity and masculinity, the legal gender system, the economic and social relations of men and women and the cultural practices of everyday lives of men and women.


How generational, social, racial, and ethnic differences colored the experiences of men and women in various European regions during specific historical moments.  The course will not only make students aware of national differences, but also of the multiple differences among various groups of women and men inside and outside the military system and within civil society.  It will also expound the hierarchies and power relations constructed by these differences.


How the wars were presented and remembered in the feature films we see and analyze during he course and which role a specific gender order, particularly the norms and concepts of femininity and masculinity played in these perceptions.

Given the diversity in the experiences of various regions of Europe, this course cannot hope to achieve a comprehensive coverage.  The emphasis will therefore rest upon Western Europe, especially Britain, France, and Germany.

Format of the Course

Feature Films, Lectures, and Recitation Sections: The course will combine the viewing of feature films, lectures and discussion about the films, and recitation sections, which presume that the students saw the films and have read the required reading. In the film sessions students will be introduced in the feature film, watch it together and discuss their first impressions afterwards. The lectures will be coordinated with the assigned readings, but will not duplicate them. Instead, the lectures are designed to give overviews, suggest emphases, to draw attention

August 14, 2008

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