Jean Watts and the Spanish Civil War

Jean Watts

I’ve gone down a research rabbit hole in the last couple of years. It’s not my dissertation. But it is, somewhat accidentally, a little monograph.

In September 2014 I started working as a doctoral fellow with Canada and the Spanish Civil War, which recovers the histories of the 1600 Canadians who (often illegally) fought for Spain from 1936 to 1938. I’ve always sustained an interest in the Spanish Civil War, but Canadian literature has been outside of my purview. I anticipated that my time with the project would be interesting and would provide material for a chapter of my dissertation. I knew that I would be producing short “case studies” on discrete topics of possible interest for archival recovery. And that would be it.

Instead, I ended up with Jean Watts and the Spanish Civil War: Writing, Politics, and Contexts. It’s a monograph. It is a collection of case studies that explore different aspects of the writing of Jean Watts, a woman who worked as a journalist and then an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War. Her story is singular; she was one of few female journalists and even fewer female ambulance drivers. Nevertheless digging into her story exposes some of the economics, politics, and international trends in political commitment in the 1930s, particularly the modes of political commitment that women accessed and created for themselves.

So, please: read about her. She is passionate and complex and committed. She has held my attention for two years and will likely continue to do so. Click here to go to the Canada and the Spanish Civil War site, where there are .pdf files of each of the case studies, and eBook files (.epub and .mobi) to download and read on your eReader or iPad.

The eBook has a bonus feature: a Foreword that is not included in the .pdf files. It’s probably the most personal piece of writing in the monograph. I’m including it below.

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