From LCMSDS Productions, The On War & Society podcast features interviews with the most prominent historians of war and society. Host Eric Story sits down with his guests to discuss their cutting-edge research, the challenges associated with doing history, and life ‘behind the book.’

On War & Society #13–Family at the Front

Nearly 660,000 bags of mail were sent to Canada from soldiers in France and Belgium during the First World War. In this episode, Dr. Kristine Alexander sits down with Kyle Pritchard to discuss her research on the topic of families, children, and letter-writing during the First World War. Kristine is an associate professor in history, a Canadian Research Chair, and Director of the Institute for Child and Youth Studies at the University of Lethbridge. Her book Guiding Modern Girls published in 2017, examines the connections which linked girlhood with colonialism and empire in the post-war and inter-war periods. In her new research, Kristine contends that letter-writing is a valuable entry point into the study of family under wartime conditions and finds that a more critical approach to these letters reveal soldiers often defied the emotional tropes historians have assigned to them.

Dr. Kristine Alexander is Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Lethbridge. She is the current Director of the U of L’s Institute for Child and Youth Studies. Her research seeks to improve our understanding of young people, colonialism, and war in the early twentieth century. Her monograph Guiding Modern Girls: Girlhood, Empire, and Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s recently won the Wilson Book Prize, awarded each year by the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University “to the book that offers the best exploration of Canadian history that, in the view of the Wilson Institute, succeeds in making Canadian historical scholarship accessible to a wide and transnational audience.”

References 

Alexander, Kristine. Guiding Modern Girls: Girlhood, Empire, and Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017.

Dubinsky, Karen, Adele Perry, and Henry Yu, eds. Within and Without the Nation: Canadian History as Transnational History. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2015.

Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.

Glassford, Sarah, and Amy J. Shaw, eds. A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.

Keshen, Jeffrey. Propaganda and Censorship during Canada’s Great War. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1996.

Past Episodes

Episode #1–The War Junk Historian with Alex Souchen

Episode #2–Somewhere Between War and Society with Terry Copp

Episode #3–Complicating History with Mary Chaktsiris

Episode #4–Canada’s Arctic Laboratory with Matthew Wiseman

Episode #5–Did You Fall Into the Vimy Trap? with Geoff Hayes

Episode #6–Dunkirk with Terry Copp

Episode #7–The Conscripted with Patrick Dennis

Episode #8–In Search of the Canadian Officer with Geoff Hayes

Episode #9–Treating Wounds of the Mind with Meghan Fitzpatrick

Episode #10–Destruction and Dissent in the Marshall Islands with Martha Smith-Norris

Episode #11–Civil War and Identity with Alec Maavara

Episode #12–A Microhistory of an Ace with Graham Broad

 

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