Women's War of Words: patriotism, pacifism and propaganda in the prose and poetry of the First World War

Simmons, Shelagh (2016) Women's War of Words: patriotism, pacifism and propaganda in the prose and poetry of the First World War. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The First World War occurred at a crucial point in the struggle for female suffrage, adding not simply to already present divisions between those women who were for and against electoral emancipation but creating a bitter split in the suffrage movement itself. Some suffragists supported the war for patriotic reasons while others were pacifists who opposed it on principle. It was a civil war not just within the suffrage sisterhood but within prominent suffragist families like the Pankhursts (Smith, 2005, p. 52).
    I chose these rifts as the focus of my work. Words are powerful weapons and, using a blend of real people and events and characters of my own creation, I explored the themes of patriotism and pacifism that feature in women’s literary discourse in the early stages of the First World War and which were used for propaganda purposes by pro and anti suffragists.. This essay will develop these themes by examining the propaganda war of words that inspired and influenced my piece of historical fiction and which played out alongside the ‘war to end all wars’. I will illustrate my points using the texts that inspired my creative artefact - Mary Humphry Ward’s The War on All Fronts: England’s Effort - Letters to an American Friend (Humphry Ward, 2015); Jessie Pope’s War Poems (2014); selected poems from the Scars Upon My Heart collection of Women’s First World War Poetry edited by Catherine Reilly (2006); Helen Zenna Smith’s novel Not So Quiet ... Stepdaughters of War (1989) and the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance journal Jus Suffragii (Oldfield, 2003, pp. 119-134).

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2016 15:10
    Last Modified: 18 Nov 2016 15:10
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/22694

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