Alexia Moncrieff, “Re-Membering the Male: Penis Wounds, Masculinity and Civilian Reintegration after the First World War”

Sacha Davis's picture
April 23, 2021
Subject Fields: 
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Military History, Psychology, Sexuality Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

The Historical, Cultural and Critical Inquiry Cluster at the University of Newcastle (Australia) is pleased to announce the third paper in our 2021 seminar series, on Friday 23 April from 9.30-10.30am Australian Eastern Daylight Time (GMT+11). A Zoom link is below. Our presenter is:

Alexia Moncrieff (Leeds University), Re-Membering the Male: Penis Wounds, Masculinity and Civilian Reintegration after the First World War

Impotence, whether as a result of physical or psychological trauma, has become a symbolic wound of the First World War. Similarly, incontinence has generated discussion amongst historians when considering the effects of the war on the male body – a war that was, in the words of Joanna Bourke, responsible for ‘dismembering the male’. However, scholarly analysis of the emasculating and infantilising effects of penis wounds has tended to emphasise their representation in popular culture, rather than the lived experiences of men returning from war.


Individual case files from the Ministry of Pensions records, held by the National Archives (UK), offer glimpses into the private lives of ex-servicemen and their families. These letters of petition and advocacy from ex-servicemen and their supporters, as well as medical case notes and administrative records, provide detailed information about the quotidian experience of disability for ex-servicemen. Using these war pensions files (PIN 26), of men with penis wounds, this paper questions the emasculating and infantilising effects of these wounds, analyses the care provided by medical professionals and the British Ministry of Pensions, and assesses the extent to which these men were able to reintegrate into civilian society. A disproportionately high number of these men emigrated from Britain to countries within the empire, so this paper assesses whether this category of wound created a particular set of circumstances that predisposed men to separation and dislocation from home.

Zoom meeting ID: 870 4036 3272 (Open from 9:15am)
Password: 783069
To Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

The event will not be recorded.


Contact Info: 

Dr Sacha Davis
The University of Newcastle
University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308 Australia