Setting: World War I Era, Northeastern America, around 1917-1918.
Genre: Urban fantasy.
Research done: A stint at the public library and lots of Google, and I did find good general notes on the political and military-related aspects of WWI, but almost nothing on civilian life in America at the time. Also, I need some clarification on things about the draft.
My two important characters are very close friends, as well as students at a prestigious college, preferably a men's college. They've got the means to BE at this college, but they're not incredibly well-to-do, either. Maybe upper-middle-class.
A) What kind of things would they have studied back then? I'm thinking of things like law and medical school, but if there's anything like philosophy or literature study, that'd be awesome. My one character is the more brooding, artistic/philosophical type, and the other is more grounded (And is most likely to be a doctor, although he doesn't need to be one if it won't work). Would they even be on the same campus? I do want these guys to be able to spend time with each other as often as possible, for college kids. :P
At that, what would attending a men's college in WWI-era America be like? Is it like attending college today, or is it drastically different (Aside from, you know, the overabundance of Y-chromosomes)?
B) My one character is drafted into the Army.
As I saw it, if a potential draft-ee is working towards obtaining their degree, they won't be drafted until they graduate. The character in question is set to graduate shortly after the prologue ends, at which point, he will go to war. Is that correct? I'm not sure I understand the explanations that I've found.
My other character may still possibly be an undergrad, although I don't know if that's enough to keep him from conscription. I just know that I want the other character to stay out of the war, as he needs to end up in New York for the major part of the story.
C) I've heard that, during that time, men were allowed to be relatively intimate without being suspected of being gay or anything. How close or 'intimate' could men act in public before eyebrows started being raised?
The characters have a 'romantic friendship', one loves the other but won't admit to it, while the other has it figured out, but won't call him out on it, or push it (Not so much that it's 'LOL, he's gay for meeee~'. This is mostly in the understanding that they do have a particularly special relationship). They're very happy with this arrangement.
Would these boundaries be influenced by their societal positions? Would other classmates tease them for being close? How would they do so?
It's not like my characters make a lot of unnecessary physical contact. They're just together a lot. I'm thinking lots of mockery by means of "Hey, where's your wife?" if one's not around, things like that.
Also, I want to write a scene where the Army character tells his friend that he's been drafted. I would like for it to be casually mentioned over lunch, preferably outside. Would two guys essentially having a picnic be weird? Or is it acceptable for the times?
Last but not least, does anyone know of any literature that was set in the timeframe of WWI, but wasn't set in the war itself? I've been trying to find stories about civilian life, and it's tougher than I thought it would be.
I've read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and then I know that stories like The Great Gatsby was set in the '20's, but that's not the exact timeframe I want.
I would just like a general idea of what civilian life was like during WWI, since the story focuses on the character that was left behind.
My profuse and copious gratitude for any help that you can give me, guys. Writing historically-based things makes me uncomfortable, so I need all the help I can get.