Thursday, September 12, 2019

Camoufleuse | The Dazzling of Women at War

Women's Reserve Camouflage Corps painting the USS Recruit (1918)
An important contribution on the social significance of World War I-era camouflage (including its broader relationships to Modern-era literature, visual arts, fashion and gender stereotypes) has recently been published in the journal Modernism/Modernity. Volume 4 Cycle 2. August 2019. Written by Emily James, who is on the faculty at St Thomas University in St Paul MN, the title of the article is "Camoufleuse: The Dazzling of Women at War." Exhaustively researched and stirringly constructed, it is undoubtedly one of the finest essays on the subject. Below is the opening paragraph, ending with an online link to the entire paper—

Modernism and camouflage would seem to be unlikely allies. One advances and the other retreats. One rebels and resists; the other lurks undercover. But during World War I, a group of renegade camoufleurs forged an uneasy truce between modernism's flash and camouflage's muted secrets. Their sources were extraordinary and eclectic. Drawing inspiration from animal behavior, avant-garde design, and women's fashion, the camoufleur—and, as I argue, the camoufleuse—worked to reimagine visibility and warfare in modern terms.…More>>> 


It may be also be of interest that there is now a Wikipedia article on the role of women in WWI camouflage, called "Women's Reserve Camouflage Corps." Also, the full text of our related essay on Chicanery and Conspicuousness: Social Repercussions of World War I Ship Camouflage can also be accessed online.