Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation

By Helen M. Cooper; Adrienne Auslander Munich et al. | Go to book overview

Feminism, the Great War, and Modern Vegetarianism

Carol J. Adams


I

What is civilization? What is culture? Is it possible for a healthy race to be fathered by violence--in war or in the slaughter-house-- and mothered by slaves, ignorant or parasitic? Where is the historian who traces the rise and fall of nations to the standing of their women?--Agnes Ryan, "Civilization? Culture?"

Twentieth-century British and American women writers have struggled with one of the literary consequences of the Great War: experience at the front has customarily been understood as entitling one to write about war while being at the home front has been thought to foreclose this right. In response to this literary standard silencing most women because they were not at the front, some writers strategically expand the terrain of war. The front, they suggest, exists not only in traditionally viewed warfare, but also in what they view as the war against nonhuman animals, typified by hunting and meat eating. 1 Women, too, their argument goes, are located at this front, and are thus entitled to speak about war. From this expanded front, these writers correlate male acts of violence against people and animals; vegetarianism becomes, along with pacifism, a challenge to war. In the wake of the Great War, many modern women writers trace the causes of both war and meat eating to male dominance.

Drawing together the numerous references to vegetarianism in works by twentieth-century women writers, this essay identifies a tradition of literary texts that expands the front and in so doing establishes the links between vegetarianism and pacifism. Because the Great War catalyzed the assimilation of vegetarianism into the antiwar vision of women writers, it is the context against which we should read this tradition. For the purposes of this essay I am identifying vegetarianism as a theme in a novel only when the author has clearly articulated it. Vegetarians are figured in literature either

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Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Notes xix
  • War and Memory 1
  • Arms and the Woman: The Con[tra]ception of the War Text 9
  • Notes 23
  • Works Cited 23
  • "Still Wars and Lechery": Shakespeare and the Last Trojan Woman 25
  • Notes 39
  • Works Cited 40
  • Rewriting History: Madame de Villedieu and the Wars of Religion 43
  • Notes 55
  • Works Cited 57
  • Southern Women's Diaries of Sherman's March to the Sea, 1864-1865 59
  • Notes 75
  • Works Cited 77
  • Civil Wars and Sexual Territories 80
  • Notes 95
  • Works Cited 96
  • The Women and Men of 1914 97
  • Notes 118
  • Corpus/Corps/Corpse: Writing the Body in/at War 124
  • Notes 159
  • Works Cited 164
  • May Sinclair's The Tree of Heaven: The Vortex of Feminism, the Community of War 168
  • Notes 179
  • Works Cited 182
  • Combat Envy and Survivor Guilt: Willa Cather's "Manly Battle Yarn" 184
  • Notes 201
  • Works Cited 203
  • "Seeds for the Sowing": The Diary of Käthe Kollwitz 205
  • Notes 221
  • Works Cited 223
  • A Needle with Mama's Voice: Mitsuye Yamada's Camp Notes and the American Canon of War Poetry 225
  • Notes 241
  • Feminism, the Great War, and Modern Vegetarianism 244
  • Images of Love and War in Contemporary Israeli Fiction: A Feminist Re-vision 268
  • Notes 277
  • Works Cited 280
  • Nuclear Domesticity: Sequence and Survival 283
  • Notes 299
  • "Epitaphs and Epigraphs: 'The End(s) of Man'" 303
  • Notes 319
  • Works Cited 321
  • A Bibliography of Secondary Sources 323
  • The Contributors 331
  • Index 335
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