Prosthetic Agency

20 October 2023

Professor Gill Plain's new book asks what happens to men after war? How do they make sense of their experiences, and how do they begin to construct new identities suited to the very different demands of peace?

Exploring the aftermath of the Second World War – a war which made combatants of millions of unlikely men – this book looks at the popular stories that tried to imagine new modes of ‘man-making’ better suited to an age of national reconstruction. The book explores adventure fiction, thrillers and melodramas, by hugely successful writers including Hammond Innes, Nevil Shute, Nigel Balchin and John Wyndham. It also examines British cinema’s response to the need for new narratives, and the autobiographical writing of disabled veterans – men who tried, through telling their own stories, to assert their place in a world that would rather forget about the war.

From imagining new technological frontiers waiting to be conquered, to romanticising the legend of amputee airman Douglas Bader, postwar British culture worked energetically to imagine man-making adventures appropriate to a new age of ‘domestic citizenship’.

Professor Plain has written a related post entitled "Picturing Postwar Disability" for the Cambridge University Press blog.

Prosthetic Agency: Literature, Culture and Masculinity after World War II is available from Cambridge University Press.