Revised Focus Statement
Instead of presenting a new (concise) focus statement, I thought it might be best (selfishly, for my own writing/research purposes) to instead present a new, expanded version of my research paper’s argument in order to receive some much-needed feedback:
Although scholars, journalists, and other interested parties continue to study dogs in World War I, it has been to a limited, superficial, and at times simplistic extent. Often aimed at a more popular audience, most studies of dogs simply herald their achievements without much analysis of their actual contributions. This is not to suggest that these sources do not provide useful, factual information. Rather, this article argues for more rigorous study of military working dogs by using dogs in World War I as a case study. These dogs were part of a larger propaganda campaign to boost civilian morale in both Great Britain and the United States. Furthermore, it is worth questioning agency and adding the concept to this present discussion, not to complicate matters but rather to aid in the analysis of the use of military working dogs. What will result is the intertwining of studies in military working dog history, agency, and civilian morale while also analyzing and calling into question current published works on animals in warfare.
I have slowly been developing my argument as I have continued my research and writing process and as a result, my argument has taken a few different forms. Above is the most recent and any comments, questions, or concerns will be much appreciated!
March 22, 2015 @ 4:56 pm
It’s getting there! and I know you can answer my two questions. So, here goes:
“Furthermore, it is worth questioning agency and adding the concept to this present discussion, not to complicate matters but rather to aid in the analysis of the use of military working dogs.”
Just before this sentence, it would be helpful to hear your take on how dogs contributed to keeping up civilian morale in these countries. (a statement of what you will be arguing)
And, after this sentence you’ll want to tell us how agency will aid in the discussion. And what you mean by agency.
(I guess I’m thinking of this para. as something you might want to include in the introduction to your paper.)
March 23, 2015 @ 8:45 am
I recently added this paragraph to my introduction as a revised and expanded version of my argument, good observation that it would fit well there! Also, I really like your suggestions for making things a bit more explicit here including morale and agency. I will take a stab at both suggestions here:
1. Portrayed to the general American and British public as heroes on the battlefield, dogs symbolized a less frightening version of the fighting front and represented a companion to the war-weary soldiers trudging through the mundane existence of life in the trenches. Images of dogs saving lives and fulfilling their wartime duties, made World War I more bearable for those civilians either very near to the action or far removed overseas.
2. Agency, here, refers to an animal’s free will or its ability to make choices and decisions based on its own emotions and reactions to situations. Agency provides a lens by which to analyze war dog contributions on the battlefield and the ways humans heralded canine achievements or tokenized animal wartime use.
Thank you for your insight!
March 23, 2015 @ 9:03 am
Re #1 I think once you address the cultural value and emotional uses of dogs outside of the war story you’ll have addressed this one more fully.
Re #2 the issue seems to be not did animals have battlefield agency, but what use was made in morale literature of the idea of animal agency. And this makes me think about the anthropomorphism you mentioned in another post.
March 23, 2015 @ 12:32 am
In addition to Dr. Jones’ suggestions, I’m wondering, Laura, if it may be important to mention or discuss the cultural significance of dogs. Why were dogs being used as propaganda, for example, instead of horses? Are they a useful and representative case study of broader themes, or are they unique? You may get into this further on and I understand this is a restricted argument, but it’s something I was wondering!
March 23, 2015 @ 5:29 am
Sara makes a good point. I think you begin to answer her question in your larger paper, but making a statement in the introduction about the relatively new status of dogs as household pets would be useful. (I wonder if you might check Reader’s Guide for a few articles on the place of pets in childrearing. My guess is that someone was talking about it and it might give you insight into how pets were thought to affect emotional development. (If you look into this…let me know what you find and I can help you understand who was giving childrearing advice at the time and what theories underlay the advice.)
March 23, 2015 @ 8:47 am
Thank you for your insight! I will definitely look into Reader’s Guide and I will get back to you about what I find. Thanks again!
March 23, 2015 @ 8:46 am
I really like this idea of discussing the cultural significance of dogs, what a fantastic suggestion! I think that will allow for more insight into the cultures I am discussing (Britain and America) and allow for more depth as well. Thank you for the suggestion!