SUNY Canton Faculty Member Discovers Truth in Fiction About World War I Women
Assistant Professor Emily Hamilton-Honey recently received funding to continue research on her life-long interest in series novels written for young adults.
Gender roles in World War I series novels reflect modern social arguments about women’s positions in the military, according to a SUNY Canton assistant professor’s research.
Emily Hamilton-Honey, Ph.D., teaches English at the college and has dedicated significant research to serial novels, similar to the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. She has now set out to pen a new book demonstrating the changing responsibilities fictional female characters had from 1914 to 1918 based on the books The Red Cross Girls, The Khaki Girls and the Ruth Fielding novels, all of which contain reoccurring characters spanning multiple books.
“World War I was one of the only moments where series fiction reflects what’s happening historically,” she said. “People tend to forget that there were a lot of women involved in the war efforts. The Navy enrolled women and the Army created a separate unit of bilingual female telephone operators.”
Hamilton-Honey noted that some 25,000 American women were working oversees during World War I and many more were working on the home front in munitions factories. Much of their involvement has gone undocumented and unrecognized. Some women even used their own finances to go overseas to help as ambulance drivers or in other front-line positions. Fiction was one of the places that brought to light the questions of gender, including women’s responsibilities in combat and wartime.
“Some of these questions are ones we are still dealing with,” she said. “We are still asking whether women should be on the battlefield. We are still asking what their roles are within the U.S. Armed Services.”
The assistant professor recently received the Dr. Nuala McGann Drescher Affirmative Action/Diversity Leave Program award through United University Professions, the union representing faculty and professional staff at the college. A stipend will allow her to take the Fall 2015 semester off from teaching to publish her findings.
She will be working with Susan Ingalls Lewis, Ph.D., an associate professor of history at SUNY New Paltz. The two authors hope to go to press in 2017 to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I.
Hamilton-Honey developed a love of series fiction in her childhood, and noted that it as a genre is commonly overlooked in academia. Previously she published “Turning the Pages of American Girlhood: The Evolution of Girls’ Series Fiction 1865-1930,” based on research from her doctoral dissertation.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses, as well as 10 exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The college’s 14 athletic teams compete as provisional members of the NCAA Division III and the USCAA.