Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Eli Rubin

Second Advisor

Dr. Marion Gray

Third Advisor

Dr. Lynne Heasley

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

The land girls who comprised the Women’s Land Army in Great Britain during the Second World War challenged cultural assumptions regarding gender and femininity. Through their work in agriculture, social anxieties were provoked regarding proper notions of femininity and separate spheres, which left these women in conflicting positions as they carved a spot for themselves in a war torn society. In order to carry out their work in the Women’s Land Army, land girls operated at the convergence of private and public spheres in a conjoined space. Living and operating in this conjoined space enabled them to blur the ideological boundaries of separate spheres and beliefs regarding femininity. This thesis relies on oral interviews, published land girl memoirs and diaries, and key primary and secondary sources to review and analyze land girls’ experiences. It finds that, through their work in agriculture, land girls both challenged and ignored cultural values regarding femininity and separate-sphere ideology, while at other times they upheld these long established normative values. Through their agricultural experiences, land girls expanded their own identities, discovered new skill sets and desires, reshaped agricultural landscapes, and became more visible and active participants in the agricultural world.

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