Dear Norah, why did you take my letter the wrong way, it was not intended to hurt or corrupt…’: Danger, desire and patriotic femininity in Britain during WW2

Dear Norah, why did you take my letter the wrong way, it was not intended to hurt or corrupt…’: Danger, desire and patriotic femininity in Britain during WW2
Date
09 Mar 2018, 17:30 to 09 Mar 2018, 19:30
Type
Seminar
Venue
IHR Pollard Seminar Room, N301, Third Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Description

Alison Twells, Sheffield Hallam

My current research focuses on letters from servicemen to women and girls who knitted woollen ‘comforts’ during WW2. In some cases, the ease with which these slipped from gratitude into a romantic register challenges the concept of ‘temperate masculinity’ which remains dominant in WW2 historiography. This paper examines a set of sexually explicit letters from a stoker in the Royal Navy to a young woman in the East Midlands, to explore some of the tensions and dangers within patriotic femininity in wartime Britain. Secondly, I will discuss the use of these letters in the development of a secondary school PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) resource which explores issues of sexual grooming. How might exploration of the dynamic between a predatory male and a sexually alive but innocent young woman in wartime Britain help our understanding of grooming and sexual abuse? What can we learn, as academic historians, from paying attention to how history ‘works’ in extra-academic