Interview Topic-Chelsey Cain

My original plan for this project was to interview a former member of the Women’s Voluntary Service.  I am very interested in gender and lived experiences of war, particularly how women define their femininity during times of conflict.  On a recent trip to the Imperial War Museum, I made note of some duties of the WVS and felt that I wanted to explore the more personal side of WWII service on the home front.  I was very interested in how this wartime service would have impacted the women’s image of themselves as female, their sexuality, their wartime and post-war relationships, and future goals, both personal and professional.  I feel that this type of interview would add another dimension to the study of women’s wartime work, one that looks at the intersections of gender, sex, labor, and war and would likely reveal a great deal about the construction of gender and femininity from 1945 onward.  I am worried, though, about finding a participant, given the age of these women and accessibility for a lengthy interview.

If my first topic choice is unavailable for whatever reason, I would also very much like to interview a former female staff member of Royal Holloway.  I feel this would still have relevance to my research interest of women, work, and femininity.  If this is the topic I pursue, I could perhaps look at constructions of gender in the more recent years since the end of WWII.

Through a life history interview of a participant from either group, I am confident that I could examine the development of gender identity and the impact of labor (either academic or through volunteer service) on the construction of femininity and sexuality in these women’s lives.


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