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This paper explores the sensory experiences of war, focusing particularly on the practice of looking at men in advertisements, in films, and in the different social spaces created by the conflict. Tracing modes of assessment and aesthetic standards, it highlights ways of seeing in advertisements for Brylcreem, Lifebuoy, and Maclean’s Toothpaste; Crown Film Unit productions; and, most importantly, the personal journals of the artist Keith Vaughan. In so doing, it showcases the body-oriented nature of modern consumer capitalism and the commodification of masculinity in the 1930s and 1940s. Its chief focus, however, is on the ways in which Vaughan fixated on the military face and body as a source of artistic inspiration and an object of fantasy that enabled him to locate myriad erotic pleasures, articulate personal understandings of psychological selfhood, and, ultimately, express new forms of modern, sexual subjectivity.

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