Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

“Missed the Best Months of the War”: Masculinity, Homosociality, and Empire among British Royal Flying Corps Interned in First World War German Prisoner of War Camps

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  • This thesis focuses on performances of masculinity by British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) airmen in the charged landscape of the First World War prisoner of war (POW) camp. I examine how captive airmen coped with imprisonment by reasserting the familiar homosocial communities of pre-capture squadron life, particularly through practices associated with domesticity, entertainment, and escape. Throughout, I employ a queer theoretical approach that recognizes practices of gender as reiterative performances in order to illustrate the elasticity and adaptability of hegemonic masculinity in the context of war and imprisonment. I suggest participation in the social relations of family and home, musical and theatrical endeavors, and attempted escapes served to reinscribe martial masculinities through assertions of group identity and national dominance via institutionally sanctioned male homosocial bonding, even as they troubled and made more elastic hegemonic understandings of gender.
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