Shock Troupe: Medical Film and the Performance of ‘Shell Shock’ for the British Nation at War

TitleShock Troupe: Medical Film and the Performance of ‘Shell Shock’ for the British Nation at War
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsPowell, Julie M.
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Volume30
Issue2
Start Page323
Pagination323 - 435
Date Published08/2017
Abstract

In 1917, physician Arthur F. Hurst began filming the peculiar tics and hysterical gaits of ‘shell-shocked’ soldiers under his care. Editions of Hurst’s films from 1918 and 1940 survive. Cultural products of their time, I argue, the films engaged with contemporary ideas of class, gender and nation. The 1918 version reinforced class-based notions of disease and degeneracy while validating personal and national trauma and bolstering conceptions of masculinity and the nation that were critical to wartime morale and recovery efforts. The 1940 re-edit of the film engaged with the memory of the First World War by constructing a restorative narrative and by erasing the troubled years of gender crisis, ‘shell shock’ culture and class struggle to reassert masculine virtue and martial strength, essential for the prosecution of the Second World War.

URLhttps://academic.oup.com/shm/article/30/2/323/2669722
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