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Total WarAn Emotional History$
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Lucy Noakes, Claire Langhamer, and Claudia Siebrecht

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266663

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266663.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 25 November 2020

‘Macabre and Hilarious’: The Emotional Life of the Civilian Gas Mask in France during and after the First World War

‘Macabre and Hilarious’: The Emotional Life of the Civilian Gas Mask in France during and after the First World War

Chapter:
(p.40) 3 ‘Macabre and Hilarious’: The Emotional Life of the Civilian Gas Mask in France during and after the First World War
Source:
Total War
Author(s):

Susan R. Grayzel

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266663.003.0003

The anticipation and fear of what chemical weapons might do to a civilian population haunted the interwar imaginary in the aftermath of the introduction and widespread use of poison gas on the battlefields of the First World War. In no place, perhaps, was this more apparent than France, one of the few nations whose civilian and combatant populations bore direct witness to this innovative weaponry. One object—the gas mask—emerged to mitigate the physical effects of gas warfare. It would come to play a crucial role in the calculated management of the destabilising emotions of anxiety and fear that accompanied the deployment of chemical arms, but its emotional life extended beyond its intended aims. This chapter combines the material and emotional history of total war by using a single object to uncover more fully the dislocation and devastation wrought by modern, industrial war. It does so by analysing key aspects of the life of the civilian gas mask from its first appearance in France during the First World War to its symbolic power in interwar civil defence and war resistance.

Keywords:   chemical weapons, civil defence, civilian, fear, France, First World War, gas mask, material history, poison gas, war resistance

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