Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Steven Ely Tabachnick
Leigh Anne Duck
The Great War, 1914-1918, involved more soldiers and resulted in more casualties than in any previous war. It was an industrial war fought on an unprecedented scale with new, technologically advanced weapons such as airplanes, tanks, armored cars, machine-guns, and long-range artillery pieces. These weapons caused millions of victims, many of whom were traumatized in many cases for life, especially by shell-shock. This new type of war occurred concurrently with a cultural environment that was transitioning from a late Victorian/Edwardian society to one that was rejecting traditional values and institutions. Modernism, a cultural and philosophical movement which began in the late nineteenth century was driven by an active cadre of artists, philosophers, and cultural critics referred to as the avant-garde, who championed a new way of writing that emphasized simplicity of description instead of the overly florid description and sentimentality associated with late-Victorian and Georgian poetry and prose. Many of the veterans who wrote memoirs came from a romantic tradition, and made the transition to a newer, more realistic style to describe their experiences. This dissertation analyzes ten British Great War narratives from both a cultural and aesthetic point of view. Thecore argument is that these veterans' combat experiences directly affected the stylesin which they wrote their memoirs. Each of the four chapters analyzing the memoirs has a thematic approach, including the epic, technology, the chivalric/heroic code, and trauma and disillusionment with the war. The overall conclusion of the dissertation is that the styles of the memoirists narratives result from their combat experiences and run the gamut on a spectrum of styles ranging from a late-Victorian influence in Lawrence's Seven Pillars and its epic theme to a theme of trauma and disillusionment in the chapter on trench poets and their experiences on the Western Front. Between those two, the theme of technology is central to a chapter about the styles of memoirs by two tank men and an armored car driver, and a chapter on two pilots' adherence to a chivalric/heroic code in their narratives.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Scott, Harold Vincent Jr., "British Great War Narratives: An Aesthetic and Cultural Analysis of Selected Memoirs" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1438.