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Queer Women in the Second World War in England

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  • UserJosie Daw – Graduate Student, History Department, Wolfson College
  • ClockFriday 04 March 2016, 14:15-14:25
  • HouseLee Hall, Wolfson College.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Francisco Orozco.

My research focuses on queer women during the Second World War in England. I have attempted to explore the practises, spaces, discourses of women expressing same-sex desires in the Second World War. This has frequently been associated as a unique period of toleration for queer individuals. Through my research, I have been able to reveal that queer women during this period were visible and active in many aspects of wartime life. I have found that queer women utilised numerous methods in order to express their same-sex desires, as well as occupying a variety of spaces and careers. Current historiography suggests that there are few sources for these women, but my research shows this is not entirely accurate. My research methodology has included reviewing oral testimonies, examining literature and films from the period, analysing reports from the WAAF and ATS reports on lesbianism, and searching through the Mass Observation diaries and newspaper articles. These sources have shown not only the proliferation of queer women but also the growing use of the term ‘lesbian’. However, they have also demonstrated that this term was ambiguously understood by the wider public. My research has attempted to deconstruct these concepts of wartime sexuality.

This talk is part of the Wolfson Research Event 2016 series.

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