British Women During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793-1815: Responses, Roles and Representations

TitleBritish Women During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793-1815: Responses, Roles and Representations
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsCarter, Louise Patricia
Number of Pages240
UniversityUniversity of Cambridge
CityCambridge, UK

This doctoral dissertation is a social and cultural exploration of the various ways in which Georgian women responded to the experience of war, the expectations placed upon them, the roles and responsibilities they adopted and the inter-relation between war and gender in this period. It focusses on five main areas: the impact of the wars on gender rhetoric; women's participation in the printed debates surrounding the wars; the experience of women on the home front; women's involvement in wartime charitable activity; and the experience of British women on campaign with the arm and navy. The study reveals that women were closely involved in the challenges facing British society throughout the wars and therefore rejects the idea that this period witnessed the disengagement of women from national and civic life. It demonstrates that women's participation in a range of public wartime roles such as publication, fundraising, charity and supporting the military was positively encouraged, and moreover argues that the wars brought the political into every aspect of women's lives from their household consumption to the absence of male relatives, and asserts that even the choice of partner at a dance was imbued with political overtones during wartime. The dissertation also suggests that the enormous and disparate challenges thrown up by these wars led to the creation of a fluid and heterogeneous cultural landscape in which paradoxical constructions of femininity co-existed ranging from the active female patriot to the defenceless domestic woman, with each being harnessed to further different wartime needs.

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