Dr Lucy Noakes is a social and cultural historian with specific interests in war, memory, gender and national identity.
Lucy's research investigates the ways in which the past is remembered, both at an individual level and at the level of established history. Her publications include work on gender and the military in 20th century Britain, death, grief and mourning in Second World War Britain, and the remembering of the Great War.
Dr Lucy Noakes is a Reader in social and cultural history, and has worked at the University of Brighton since 2007.
Her research focuses on the British experience and memory of total warfare in the twentieth century with a particular emphasis on gender. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and was elected Honorary Secretary of the Social History Society from 2011-2014, hosting the Annual Conference of the Society at the University of Brighton in April 2012. Within the University is Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories (Acting Director, 2016-17), and is the current Research Leader for the Humanities programme. She is Course Leader for the MA in Cultural History, Memory and Identity.
Lucy Noakes' 1998 monograph War and the British: Gender and National Identity, 1939-1991 continues to be cited in much current research into the social and cultural history of Second World War Britain and led to some recent research examining the memories of that war recorded on the BBC 'People's War' online archive (see Research Activity pages for details). The ways that war informs British national identity, and its place in popular memory, continue to be central to her work, leading to recent articles in BBC History magazine, work on the website Open Democracy and the organisation of two conferences in 2011: one in collaboration with the Royal Marines Museum entitled War, Silence and Memory in Modern Britain and the other at the University of Brighton entitled The Second World War: Popular Culture and Cultural Memory. This was organised in collaboration with Dr Juliette Pattinson of the University of Kent and Dr Petra Rau of the University of East Anglia and three edited collections based on the conference are published and forthcoming: Noakes L. & Pattinson, J. (eds) Keep Calm and Carry On: Britain and the Cultural Memory of the Second World War Bloomsbury: 2013; P. Rau (ed.), Long Shadows:The Second World War in British Literature and Film. 1943 to the Present Northwestern University Press: 2013; and a special edition of the Journal of War and Culture Studies (Vol. 7, No 3, August 2014), 'Incarceration in the Second World War', edited with Juliette Pattinson and Wendy Ugolini (University of Edinburgh). Noakes, Pattinson and Ugolini co-authored an introductory essay 'Incarcerated Masculinities: Male POWs and the Second World War' for this volume, pp.179-90. In April 2014 she was an invited speaker in the LSE/Churchill Archive Cambridge Annual Churchill Debate: 'Churchill as a Political icon'. In December 2015 she was an invited speaker at the workshop on comparative memories of the Second World War at Harvand University, Seoul, South Korea. Papers from this workshop are being published in an edited collection in South Korea.
Her ongoing interest in war and gender informed her next major piece of work, examining the relationship between gender and the military in 20th century Britain, published as a series of articles and book chapters, and as the monograph Women in the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex 1907-1948 (London: 2006). This piece of research took her to Australia in 2006 where, supported by a British Academy Grant, she worked at Macquarie University, Sydney, tracing the history of ex-Servicewomen migrants from Britain following the First World War. She has recently published two pieces of research in connection with this project: 'From War Service to Domestic Service', in Twentieth Century British History (22: 1, 2011) and 'Our Excess Girls' for BBC History Magazine. In connection with this research she was an invited participant in the AHRC 'Tailored Trades' research network, giving a paper at Exeter University on 'Eve in Khaki' at the fourth workshop. In 2013 she gave the Keynote address at the Women's History Network Regional Conference, University of Worcester, on women in the post-war British army, published in the Autumn 2014 (no 76) issue of the Women's History Magazine.
Lucy is currently working on three distinct but inter-related research projects. The first is a study of death, grief and mourning in Second World War Britain, the final outcome of which will be a monograph published by Manchester University Press. The research sits at the interface between political and institutional history, as it critically analyses the development of public policy surrounding the management of civilian and military death in wartime, cultural memory, in its consideration of rituals of remembrance and commemoration and emotional history, in its investigation of the experience and articulation of grief in mid 20th century Britain. This research has been presented at conferences and research seminars in Britain, the United States, Canada and Italy, and in September 2013 she gave the keynote talk on 'Gender, Grief and Mourning in Wartime' to the 'Lessons of War' conference at the University of Lancaster. A recent output from this research is her article in The Journal of War and Culture Studies (8/1, 2015, pp72-85), 'Gender, Grief and Bereavement in Second World War Britain', She was awarded a British Academy conference grant, with Claudia Siebrecht and Claire Langhammer, both of the University of Sussex, to hold a two day conference at the British Academy in the summer of 2014 entitled War: An Emotional History. An edited collection on the same theme is under contract with Oxford University Press. In October 2014 she delivered a public lecture and graduate workshop on this research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA in the George L. Mosse 'War and Intimacy' series of talks being convened by the Institute for Research in the Humanities. In 2015 she was invited by the AHRC to speak on this research at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. in a symposium on culture and conflict, organised as part of the Research Council's series of events marking its 10th anniversary.
The second is an examination of civil defence in Twentieth Century Britain. An article, 'Serve to Save', drawing on this research was published in the Journal of Contemporary History (47: 4, 2012) and a co-authored chapter with Susan R. Grayzel which explores the relationship between gender, citizenship and civil defence since the First World War can be found in A. Carden-Coyne (ed.) Gender and Conflict (Palgrave: 2012). Noakes and Grayzel are recipients of an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Collaborative Fellowship Award 2014-2016 for this work, the final outcome of which will be a jointly authored monograph which traces the shifting relationship between gender, civil defence and citizenship in Britain during the 20th century. Noakes and Grayzel have presented collaboratively and independently on this project at conferences and symposia in Britain, Spain and the United States
Her final research project is shaped by the centenary of the Great War. She is Co-Investigator in the AHRC Connected Communities 'Gateways to the First World War Centre', based at the University of Kent. As part of this project, she has given numerous lectures and talks at museums, schools, universities and other public institutions on the centenary of the Great War, and is working closely with Heritage Lottery funded community history projects. Part of Noakes' research on the centenary of the war is an international collaborative project examining the memory of the Battle of Fromelles (1916) across Australia, Britain and France, which she is working on with Professor Annette Becker (Paris X) and Professor Bruce Scates (Monash) as part of a wider project funded by the Australian Research Council examining the Australian memory of the First World War. As part of this project, Noakes was an invited participant in the colloqium 'Landscapes of War, Commemoration Strategies and Heritage Management' held at the Academia Belgica, Rome, in 2012. In 2014 she commissioned a Mass Observation Directive which canvassed responses and reactions to centenary commemoration, and she presented her initial findings on this material at two international conferences in the autumn of 2015. She has spoken widely on issues of war commemoration and the social history of warfare in Britain at a range of institutions and events including, in 2014-16, Woolwich Arsenal, Bexhill Museum, the Royal United Services Institute, London and the British Embassy, Helsinki, Finland.
She is currently supervising eight PhD students working on histories of war, memory, commemoration and gender and welcomes informal enquiries from potential students wanting to undertake research in these or related fields.
Investigating the construction and circulation of cultural memory of the war in Britain
Examining the migration of women from Britain to Australia and other Dominions in the aftermath of the First World War
This chapter is part of on an ongoing piece of research on the relationship between ‘new’ interactive media and the production of memory.
Explores the ways in which the military is so strongly linked with masculinity and serves as a means of naturalising constructed gender identities.
Focuses on the period following the demobilisation of the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1918 and examines discourses of gender and class.
Article engages with Baudrillard’s controversial arguments about the war, that media coverage acted to disengage audiences from the realities of war.
Argues that women’s labour with the British military in WWI can be understood as a form of paid labour alongside other areas of women’s work.
Noakes, Lucy (2015) A broken silence? Mass Observation, Armistice Day and ‘everyday life’ in Britain 1937–1941 Journal of European Studies, 45 (4). pp. 331-346. ISSN 0047-2441
Noakes, Lucy (2015) Popular memory, popular culture: the war in the postwar world In: Geyer, M. and Tooze, A., eds. The Cambridge history of the Second World War. Total war: economy, society and culture. The Cambridge History of the Second World War, 3 . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 675-697. ISBN 978107039957
Noakes, Lucy (2015) Gender, grief and bereavement in Second World War Britain Journal of War and Culture Studies, 8 (1). pp. 72-85. ISSN 1752-6272
Noakes, Lucy (2015) ‘Deep England’: Britain, the countryside and the English in the Second World War In: Pattinson, J. and Ugolini, W., eds. Fighting for Britain? Negotiating identities in Britain during the Second World War. British Identities Since 1707, 7 . Peter Lang, Oxford, pp. 25-48. ISBN 9783034318242
Noakes, Lucy (2014) 'Gentle in manner, resolute in deed': women in the British army in the post-war years Women's History Magazine, 76. pp. 5-12. ISSN 1476-6760
Pattinson, Juliette, Noakes, Lucy and Ugolini, Wendy (2014) Incacerated masculinities: male POWs and the Second World War Journal of War and Culture Studies, 7 (3). pp. 179-190. ISSN 1752-6272
Noakes, Lucy and Pattinson, Juliette (2013) British Cultural Memory and the Second World War [Edited Collections]
Noakes, Lucy (2012) 'Serve to Save': Gender, Citizenship and Civil Defence in Britain 1937-1941 Journal of Contemporary History, 47 (4). pp. 734-753. ISSN 0022-0094
Noakes, Lucy and Grayzel, S.R. (2012) Defending the home(land): gendering Civil Defence from the First World War to the 'War on Terror' In: Carden-Coyne, A., ed. Gender and conflict since 1914: historical and interdisciplinary perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 53-70. ISBN 9780230280946
Noakes, Lucy (2011) Conference: the Second World War: popular culture and cultural memory Centre for Research and Development, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK. (Unpublished)
Noakes, Lucy (2011) War on the Web: Gender and Memory of the Second World War on the BBC 'People's War' Website In: The 15th Berkshire Conference on the HIstory of Women, 8-12 June 2011, University of Massachussetts, Amherst, USA. (Unpublished)
Noakes, Lucy (2010) From war service to domestic service: ex-servicewomen and the Free Passage Scheme 1919-22 Twentieth Century British History, 22 (1). pp. 1-27. ISSN 0955-2359
Noakes, Lucy (2010) Women and World War II In: Buckley, John and Kassimeris, George, eds. The Ashgate Research Companion to Modern Warfare. Ashgate, Franham UK, pp. 223-240. ISBN 9780754674108
Noakes, Lucy (2009) The BBC “People’s War” website McFarland, North Carolina, USA.
Noakes, Lucy (2008) 'Playing at Being Soldiers?' British women and military uniform in the First World War In: Meyer, Jessica, ed. British Popular Culture and the First World War. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands, pp. 123-146. ISBN 9789004166585
Noakes, Lucy (2008) “A disgrace to the country they belong to”: the sexualisation of female soldiers in First World War Britain Revue Lisa, VI (4). pp. 11-26. ISSN 1762-6153
Noakes, Lucy (2007) Demobilising the Military Woman: Constructions of Class and Gender after the First World War Gender & History, 19 (1). pp. 143-162. ISSN 14680424
Noakes, Lucy (2006) Women and the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex 1907-1948 Routledge, UK. ISBN 0415390575
Noakes, Lucy (2005) Eve in Khaki: Women Working with the British Military 1915-1918 In: Women and Work Culture: Britain 1850-1950. Ashgate, pp. 213-228. ISBN 0754650502
Noakes, Lucy (2002) Women and the War That Never Happened: British Women, Autobiography and Memory During the Gulf War In: Temporalities: Autobiography and Everyday Life. Manchester University Press, pp. 219-232. ISBN 071905575X
Lucy Noakes is a frequent contributor to conferences, symposia and seminars in the field of history. In 2014 she gave a public lecture on her current research on death, grief and mourning in Second World War Britain in the George L. Mosse Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison USA. In the same year she gave a talk on 'The Search for Peace in Interwar Europe in the 'Peace and Diplomacy' symposium at the British Embassy, Helsinki, Finland and was invited to speak on her research into the memory of the Second World War in the Annual Winston Churchill Debate at the LSE, London in April 2014. In June 2012 she gave the keynote address at the 'Fighting for Britain?' conference at the University of Edinburgh, delivering the paper 'What does Britain mean to you? Mass-Observation, national identity and the English in the Second World War' and in 2013 was the keynote speaker at the 'Lessons of War' conference at the University of Lancaster, speaking on gender, grief and mourning in wartime, and at the Women's HIstory Network Conference at the University of Worcester, revisiting her work on women and the military. Her continuing work with Mass-Observation also led her to present a paper at the Mass-Observation 75th anniversary conference in July 2012 at the University of Sussex, where she spoke on Mass-Observation and war memorials, a topic she went on to explore further as an invited participant in the 'Landscapes of War, Commemoration Strategies and Heritage Management' workshop at the Academia Belgica, Rome, in September 2012. Noakes' ongoing interest in gender and feminist history led to an invitation to participate in 'The Moment of British Women's HIstory' symposium held at Columbia University, New York in February 2013, a fascinating and enriching event which reflected on the legacy of 40 years of women's history.
Noakes’ work has been reviewed and cited widely, for example, in S.O. Rose, Which People’s War? (Oxford, 2003), P. Summerfield, Reconstructing Women’s Wartime Lives (Manchester,1998) and with C. Peniston-Bird, Contesting Home Defence (Manchester, 2007) and M. Francis, The Flyer (Oxford, 2009)
Noakes’ work on the interface between war, gender and memory was widely cited in the first ‘scene setting’ issue The Journal of War and Culture Studies. (Vol. 1, No. 1, 2008) in articles by Evans, on ‘War Studies and the Cultural Turn’ (49) , Fell, on ‘Gendering the War Story’ (57) and Summerfield, on ‘War, Film and Memory’ (20)
Reviews of her most recent monograph Women in the British Army (2006) include Louise Jackson History, vol. 92, 2007, p271, who concluded that the book demonstrated "very convincingly that military discourses played a crucial role in the construction of male and female identities in the first half of the Twentieth century" and Nicoletta Gullace, Journal of Contemporary History vol. 44, 2009, p 551 who commented that "Noakes reminds us that an overly optimistic assessment of women’s increasing presence in the military threatens to camouflage the persistent resistance of military authorities to full equality for female soldiers". Joanna Bourke described the book as "an invaluable guide to the trials and tribulations of military women during the two world wars. It is a riveting story from start to finish – a story for our time."
British Cultural Memory and the Second World War (Bloomsbury, 2013) edited by Noakes and Juliette Pattinson, was reviewed by Joel Morley in Twentieth Century British History (October 2014), who described the volume as "essential reading", by Daniel Ussishkin in the Journal of British Studies (July 2015), who called it 'a terrific addition to the growing body of literature on the memory of the Second World War', and by Juliet Gardiner in History Today (December 2014), who commented that this "rich volume of essays...probes the fashioning and functioning of Britain's collective memory of a war that for decades was heralded as 'Britain's finest hour'."