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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Zimmerman, Sarah J.

Second Advisor

Mathieu, Ed

Third Advisor

Leonard, Kevin Allen, 1964-


This thesis explores the origins of the idolized masculine archetype known as the citizen-soldier in Edwardian era England. It shows the process of its construction during the Victorian era and how it was maneuvered by the state and middle-class population to cultivate consent for volunteerism during the First World War. To claim that men volunteered to fight due to a sense of patriotism or thirst for adventure is too simplistic, and fails to account for historical processes. The educated middle classes did not enlist into England’s army unthinkingly. They were motivated by anxiety or the possibility of attaining citizen-soldier status, which the middle class revered above all other constructs of masculinity. Despite the differing perceptions of duty within the middle class all shared a common impetus to volunteer. This, I argue, is because each man was a product of his middle-class upbringing, which demanded of him deference to authority, patriotism, stoicism in the face of danger, pride, camaraderie and honor. The violence of trench warfare did not dismantle citizen-soldier hegemony. Stoic attitudes and fatalism allowed men to maintain their manliness when faced with the horrors of war. When they reflected on violence in the trenches or their fallen friends, soldiers described their service as an experience that made them better men. Thus, the citizen-soldier construct which attained hegemony in decades before the First World War lived on as a dominant masculine archetype even after men’s wartime service was complete.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Middle class men--England--History--19th century; Masculinity--England--History--19th century; World War, 1914-1918--Propaganda

Geographic Coverage





masters theses




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