Women, Modernism and World War I in Literary and Visual Culture
Amid the unprecedented social change of World War I, women renegotiated their identities by dramatically changing the way they engaged with the arts. But how did they do so? What was the aesthetic, cultural and political involvement of women during the war and how did they express the simultaneous trauma and liberation of modernity?
Dr. Irene Gammel, Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture, aims to answer these questions in her timely research which coincides with the 2014 centennial of the first year of the First World War.
Gammel’s research is offering new approaches to the intersection of gender, modernism and the First World War through the prism of literary and visual culture. Her research aims to preserve and advance women’s cultural legacies while promoting Canadian heritage on the international scene. Her research is mapping the production of female artists as they engaged with the war alongside their male counterparts. By doing so, it shows how women were intricately linked to the functioning of civil life at the dawn of the modern era.
Gammel’s research is also providing a novel critique of Mary Riter Hamilton, Canada’s most underexplored yet accomplished female war artist. Hamilton achieved international acclaim and was considered by her contemporaries to be one of Canada’s first women artists, but remains largely unknown today. Gammel’s long-overdue examination of Hamilton’s burgeoning modernist aesthetics is a critical addition to the discourse on violence, gender and international identity.
Gammel’s research will improve understanding of women’s cultural and political involvement in the First World War and expand knowledge of the role women played in that 100-year-old conflict.