University Events

Archive Items

The Generation of Memory: Gender and the Popular Memory of the Second World War in Britain

Professor Penny Summerfield, Manchester University

Date/Time: 14th March 2013

It has been said that the Second World War is such a pervasive feature of British life that it isn’t necessary to have lived through it to ‘remember’ it. Across the generations since 1945, popular culture has kept British imaginations well stocked with accounts of it, but what does it mean to ‘remember’ something one hasn’t experienced direct? Are there generational and gender differences to this kind of memory, and how can a historian explore these issues? Drawing on a 2009 Mass Observation survey, this lecture looked at patterns of remembering ‘the war’, which do not coincide neatly with generational differences. The ways in which people respond are less governed by generation: gender is the more important factor.