Speaker: Christine Hallett, PhD
Senior Lecturer and Director of the UK Centre for the History of Nursing and Midwifery, The School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work
University of Manchester, Manchester, England
Title: ‘Death and the Maiden’: Purity and Self-sacrifice in the Image of the First World War Nurse
Abstract: Vast numbers of largely-inexperienced volunteer-soldiers were exposed to its highly destructive weaponry with devastating consequences during World War I. Descriptions of First World War field hospitals have likened these institutions to butcher’s shops and charnel-houses. Into these scenarios came trained and volunteer-nurses - pristine in their white dresses and flowing veils - projecting an image of unsullied and invincible purity. My paper will examine the myths and realities that lay behind this untouchable image of the First World War nurse, and will consider the ways in which nurses engaged with the horrors of war, and with its physical and emotional consequences, focusing on the conflict that was created by their efforts to present themselves as pure, fearless and morally incorruptible, as they faced the grim realities of their experiences.It will consider the self-sacrificing nature of nurses’ behaviours in staging these performances and will examine the consequences of these efforts of ‘self-containment’.
Date: Time: 12:15 PM
Place: Claire M. Fagin Hall, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania
Room 2U Conference Room, 2019
The Bates Center Seminar Series features scholarly papers and presentations on the history of nursing and health care and welcomes all interested individuals.
Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
418 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6096
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