Olivia Fiorilli

"The calm and alert girl dressed in white": Fantasies social , fears and gender norms in the creation of an icon of the Great War

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"The nurse" is an emblematic figure of the Great War, in Italy as in the other countries that took part in it. Overrepresented in the press as well as in posters and cards, in the midst of the turmoil generated by the war, the nurse seemed to embody a "reassuring" female character. Nonetheless, just before the war, the nurse was not at all a "reassuring" figure: nursing was not a respectable profession for a young lady. The "white angel" that became iconic during the war was the "product" of the conscious effort to "domesticate" the image of the nurse operated by women intellectuals, writers and voluntary nurses who published their memories. Thanks to this effort, the nurse turned into an icon of femininity and a symbol of modernity.

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