Clare Church BA University of Waterloo, MA New York University
PhD Thesis Title: ‘The Symbol of a Wartime Songstress: An Exploration of the Women Behind the Second World War’s Most Iconic Songs.’
Scholars have often stated that the Second World War was fought as much with mass media as it was with conventional weapons. And while women were often the faces and voices of this mass media, their prominence in the historical narrative is nominal. This study seeks to redress the disparity by shining a light on the most celebrated female entertainers of the Second World War, with special attention devoted to Anna Marly, Joséphine Baker, Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn and Anne Shelton. This study integrates the overlapping fields of cultural history, music historiography, and collective memory. In so doing, this research comments on the capacity of music and entertainment to unite in wartime – and indeed the foundational role of women to this very endeavour.