Femininity and War: A Trans-national Perspective of Artistic Representations of Gender
Since the 1970s and 1980s, art historians have been paying increasing attention to developments and themes that cut across national boundaries integrating the nation and international. Out of this attention to cross-cultural themes, a rich literature on visual representation and gender has emerged, with special emphasis on images of femininity and the ideological discourses that surround the socially defined roles for men and women (Bonnell, 1999; Cusack & Bhreathnack-Lynch, 2003).
In this paper, I focus upon the trans-national key elements of female representations from various countries involved in the Second World War, 1939-1945 (America, Australia, Greece and the United Kingdom). In contrast to the First World War that mostly linked women to motherhood, the Second World War moved a few steps further added to the existing list of representations ‘romantic’, ‘kittenish’ and ‘emancipated’ reflecting the new roles performed by women in the fields and the factories (Randolph-Higonnet et al, 1987).
By examining selected images produced during World War Two (propaganda posters) from different countries (America, Australia, Greece and the United Kingdom) the aim of my work is to develop and maintain a critique of the visual representation of gender in its social, sexual, cultural and political aspects from a feminist perspective.
Keywords: art history, visual arts, war, gender
Ms Anna Efstathiadou
PhD Candidate, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland