Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)



First Advisor

Rachel Hollander

Second Advisor

Amy King

Third Advisor

Stephen Sicari


This dissertation examines both written and filmic texts to determine the way World War I trauma was depicted in the postwar period and how it is now presented to a modern audience. This study begins with texts written in the immediate postwar period: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Vera Brittain’s war memoir Testament of Youth and R.C. Sherriff’s play and novel Journey’s End and draws comparisons to their twentieth and twenty-first century film adaptations. A coda also examines the novel and film The Hours. Using psychology, history, literary criticism, and film theory, I conclude the films are generally more invested in upholding traditional myths of trauma and gender than in authentically modernizing the war for the twentieth and twenty-first century. Film theorists provide an important framework for considering the film adaptations. Ultimately, the films eschew the complexity of their source texts, choosing instead to uphold traditional myths as a way to encourage feelings of nostalgia, which can be politically expedient as well as financially profitable. These myths are not only untrue but they are harmful, especially for an audience in the 20th or 21st centuries. These films create narratives that uphold traditional definitions of English identity, particularly masculinity, and privilege the British soldier experience in spite of the rich and varied perspectives in the source material.

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