Queer Women in Second World War Britain
“My research focuses on queer women in the Second World War in Britain. I have explored the practises, spaces, and discourses surrounding women expressing same-sex desires during the wartime period. My research questions the widely held conception of the war as a unique period of toleration for same-sex desires, instead I argue that toleration was a continuation of the interwar period. However, despite this toleration my research has revealed that knowledge of these practises did not equate to a comprehensive understanding, and in particular the term ‘lesbian’ was ambiguously understood. This is evident within the institutions that both encouraged homosociality but seemed to reject women’s same-sex practises, such as the women’s services.
My research utilises a combination of interdisciplinary methodologies in order to analyse a range of sources, including reports from the WAAF and ATS, literature, films, newspapers, oral testimonies, and Mass Observation diaries.”
I am a graduate student in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge, and a Prize Research Student of the Centre for History and Economics. I am currently interested in the history of sexuality, particularly in the twentieth century. My undergraduate dissertation was titled, ‘Sapphists and Sodomites: Same-Sex Practises, Spaces and Discourses in Interwar Britain’ and was undertaken at Brunel University in 2013.
Josie will be speaking on day 2 of the conference.