• CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
National Army Museum
  • CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Emotion and Ethics During Combat in the First and Second World Wars

British and German wounded, Bernafay Wood, France, 19 July 1916

Join Professor Joanna Bourke as she questions how the role of emotions and ethics can give us a better understanding of the experience of combat.

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For British and American service personnel, the conflict zones of the First and Second World Wars were areas of high intensity and emotional turmoil. The pressure and strain of combat were stimulants for a range of emotions that could range anywhere from fear, sadness and despair to hope, joy and many others.      

In recent years, historians have begun to ask several questions in the hopes of better understanding the emotional experience of combat. How were these emotions expressed, not only on the battlefield, but also in subsequent diaries, letters and works of art? What was the impact of ethics and the use of military language to separate the soldier from his actions? And finally, how were these emotions dealt with when combatants began to settle back into civilian life after the war? 

In this captivating talk, Professor Joanna Bourke will argue that answering these questions could potentially offer us a greater insight not only into the effects of combat, but also a better understanding of emotions themselves.

About Professor Joanna Bourke

Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is the prize-winning author of 15 books, as well as over 100 articles in academic journals. Her books include 'Dismembering the Male: Men’s Bodies, Britain, and the Great War' and 'An Intimate History of Killing', which won the Fraenkel Prize and the Wolfson History Prize.

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