Master of Arts (MA)
The First World War saw a multitude of facial wounds, with veterans coming home with severe facial mutilation numbering in the thousands. These veterans have been somewhat overlooked in the historiography of medicine in World War I, and this work seeks to remedy that by examining every aspect of their lives, from the moment of the wound, to the aftermath of their return home. The medical professionals who treated these men gave a great deal of thought to the philosophy behind their work, and frequently voiced the opinion that their work was essential for the wellness of these men’s psyches. This is because patients with facial wounds experienced a double trauma, resulting in both the loss of function and the loss of psychic identity. If surgeons were unsuccessful in covering over severe wounds, sculptors stepped in to take over for them, crafting fine tin masks for the men to wear until they themselves expired. The masks came to serve as a visual reminder of medicine’s inability to cover the wounds of war. Finally, these men experienced unpleasant reactions upon returning home, because their wounds did not fit in with the way that Europeans preferred to memorialize the First World War. The personal accounts of soldiers and medical workers speak to this notion.
Document Availability at the Time of Submission
Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.
Pritchard, Brenna K., "Boys on Blue Benches: Disfigured Veterans of the First World War" (2016). LSU Master's Theses. 191.