Working Memory: Women and Work in World War II speaks to the work women did during the war: the labour of survival, resistance, and collaboration, and the labour of recording, representing, and memorializing these wartime experiences. The contributors follow their subjects’ tracks and deepen our understanding of the experiences from the imprints left behind. These efforts are a part of the making of history, and when the process is as personal as many of our contributors’ research has been, it is also the working of memory. The implication here is that memory is intimate, and that the layering of narrative fragments that recovery involves brings us in touching distance to ourselves.
These are not the stories of the brave little woman at home; they are stories of the woman who calculated the main chance and took up with the Nazi soldier, or who eagerly dropped the apron at the door and picked up a paintbrush, or who brazenly bargained for her life and her mother’s with the most feared of tyrants. These are stories of courage and sometimes of compromise— not the courage of bravado and hype and big guns, but rather the courage of hard choices and sacrifices that make sense of the life given, even when that life seems only madness. Working Memory brings scholarly attention to the roles of women in World War II that have been hidden, masked, undervalued, or forgotten.
About the authors
Marlene Kadar is an associate professor in humanities and women’s studies at York University, and the former director of the graduate programme in interdisciplinary studies. Her publications include Essays on Life Writing, which won the Gabrielle Roy Prize (English) for 1992. Kadar’s research interests include the politics of life writing, especially as represented in survivor narratives; the construction of privilege and knowledge in women’s life writing; and, Hungarian and Romani autobiography and historical accounts, biographical traces and fragments.
Susanna Egan is a professor in the department of English at the University of British Columbia. Her most recent monograph is titled Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography.
Jeanne Perreault is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Calgary and is the author of Writing Selves: Contemporary Feminist Autography.
Linda Warley teaches in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. She has published articles in journals such as Canadian Literature, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, and Reading Canadian Autobiography, a special issue of Essays on Canadian Writing.
Jeanne Perreault is professor of English at the University of Calgary. She is coeditor (with Sylvia Vance) of Writing the Circle: Native Women of Western Canada (1990), and coeditor (with Joseph Bruchac) of Critical Visions: Contemporary North American Native Writing, a special issue of Ariel (1994). She is the author of Writing Selves: Contemporary Feminist Autography (1995). Other publications include “Memory Alive: An Inquiry into the Uses of Memory in Marilyn Dumont, Jeannette Armstrong, Louise Halfe, and Joy Harjo” (Native North America: Critical and Cultural Perspectives, ed. Renée Hulan, ECW Press, 1999), and “Writing Whiteness: Linda Griffith’s Raced Subjectivity in The Book of Jessica” (Essays on Canadian Writing, 1996). Currently, she is examining the racializing of whiteness in white women’s texts.