Tracing Shell-shock from 1915-1939


Welcome to Shell-shock in Popular Culture: A Digital Archive!

Page 316 of the medical journal The Lancet. At the top of the page, the article is credited to Captain C.S. Myers, RAMC, The Study of Shell Shock, dated Feb. 13, 1915. The title of the study reads, "A contribution to the study of shell shock.: Being an account of three cases of loss of memory, vision, smell, and taste, admitted into the Duchess of Westminster's War Hospital, Le Touquet." By Charles S. Myers, M.d. Sc. D. Camb. Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps. 

The remarkably close similarity of the three cases which are described in this paper is shown in the following synopsis. 

And in the table below, the words read, "Cause, Case One: Shells bursting about him when hooked by barbed" and the rest of the word is cut off. Case two reads, "Shell blowing trench in." Case three reads., "Shell blew him off a" and the rest of the word is cut off.

This digital archive exists to catalogue, represent, and showcase digitized materials reflecting the influence of shell-shock, a form of trauma originating in violence and/or war, on popular culture and media following the First World War.

What is the timeline of this archive?
This archive spans from 1915, when Charles Myers coined the diagnosis in the pages of The Lancet, and cuts off on September 1, 1939, when the Second World War officially began. This archive traces the first use of shellshock during the First World War to its first appearances in popular culture.

This digital archive traces how shellshock represented a crisis of masculinity, which can be shown through its depiction in popular culture. As the public became aware of shell-shock through avenues such as newspapers, newsreels, and literature, their perceptions of shell-shocked and disabled men also changed. This archive is intended as a means of visualizing that paradigm shift in representation across poetry (in the work of war poets), film (through an interview), across comics, and through newspapers.