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Fighting Forces offers an in-depth feminist reading of the traumatic nature of women's experience during the First World War and illuminates the complex ideological structures within which women sought an identity during the war. In this period of both idealism and devastation, women often found themselves wanting to join their male compatriots in the trenches. Instead, they gained temporary powers of citizenship, privileges which were again exclusive to men after the Armistice.
Fighting Forces ranges over the works of several women writers of the period: from Jeannie Maitland, author of Woman's Own, to Virginia Woolf. Unpublished memoirs, diaries and stories by both famous and little-known writers provide a fascinating spectrum of female responses to the war. Propaganda and institutional directives inspire the work of Vera Brittain; pacifist rhetoric emerges in the writings of Rose Maculay, while Virginia Woolf contests the propagandist discourse of her male contemporaries.