Current Students

Emily Anderson

My thesis is entitled ‘Humour and Representation in British Literature of the First World War 1914-1918’. An abundance of humorous Great War literature was written and published in the 1914-18 period. My thesis brings together celebrated texts of the conflict with lesser-known works, demonstrating the pervasiveness of humour in a range of literary responses to the war. I cover poetry, trench newspapers, short stories, and theatre. On the relatively rare occasions on which humorous Great War texts are discussed, they tend to be seen as material for emotional relief, emphasis being placed on their potential for improving morale. This is in contrast to the war’s most famous literature – writing that tends to be thought of as deeply solemn – which has been extensively explored for its representational force. I give a number of examples from different genres of how humour contributed to the depiction of life during the war, including a discussion of how different kinds of humour were especially well-suited to the portrayal of certain aspects of the conflict. I argue that forms of humorous literature that were well-established before the outbreak of the fighting were sufficiently robust to capture a range of war experiences. In doing so, I draw attention to the nuanced tones, complex pictures, and moving impressions of the war that humour often created.

Supervisory Team: Dr Anne Whitehead, English Literature, Language and Linguistics (Newcastle), Dr Martin Dubois, English Literature, Language and Linguistics (Newcastle), Prof. Fran Brearton, English (QUB).

Start Date: September 2015.