Dr Marjorie Gehrhardt

Research interests

My PhD thesis (awarded in 2014) focused on the destiny of World War One facially injured soldiers in the interwar era, one key question being that of their reintegration into society. I investigate the impact of disfigurement on these veterans' perception of themselves and of the world, as well as the ways in which society at large reacted to the return home of maimed men and interacted with these 'walking reminders of the war'. Questions of identity and memory are of crucial importance and my project aims to contribute to our understanding of memorialisation of pain and trauma.

Setting artistic representations against real-life cases, my approach is interdisciplinary and involves discussions of literary works, visual depictions as well as medical, military and journalistic accounts. I have chosen to focus on three specific countries (France, Germany and Great Britain) in order to highlight international variations, one central question being to what extent being on the winners', or loser's side, impacted upon the (self-)perception of facially disfigured veterans of the First World War.

I have participated in the (successful) bid for the EU INTERREG IV funding for the project 1914-FACES-2014, looking at the long-term cultural legacy of facial disfigurement in the First World War. I currently work on this project, led in Exeter by Prof David Jones and our partners include the Université de Picardie-Jules Verne (Amiens), the Institut Faire Faces and the Historial de la Grande Guerre (Péronne).

My broader research interests include the cultural history of charities and the voluntary sector in France and Great Britain, the cultural history of the First World War and the Interwar period, and disability studies (with special focus on disfigurement).