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

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

Gillian Brown


Nuclear Domesticity: Sequence and Survival

During the past few years a chain letter, which originated in Japan, has circulated through the academic profession urging a worldwide movement for nuclear disarmament. The same week this letter reached me there arrived in my mail a chain letter of the usual type promising me wealth and success if I passed the letter on to my friends and associates, and threatening financial reverses or even death if I broke the chain. The arrival of the second letter brought into relief the informing structure of the nuclear chain letter: a systematic coercion to maintain sequence. It is the role of sequence in thinking about nuclear danger that I wish to consider here--how sequence, as the ordering principle and rhetorical figure of domesticity, our cultural institution of continuity, governs the language and gestures generated by both nuclear protest and postnuclear planning movements.

Typical chain letters, much like protection rackets, seek to scare us into subscription. This terrorization is what makes them such unwelcome mail. For chain letters mobilize fear against fear itself, disseminating threats in order to insure a proliferation of responses against those threats. The chain letter might therefore appear an odd or inappropriate form of address for nuclear protest to employ (unless, perhaps, it is understood as a tactic thematizing the force of the nuclear threat). I want to suggest, however, that there is an aspect of chain letter logic that resonates with the preservationist values of nuclear disarmament.

As chain letters work by implementing a continuous sequence of multiplication and circulation against the threat of loss or annihilation, antinuclear rhetoric pits (versions of) the nuclear family against nuclear war. While chain letters characteristically operate as commercial schemes, and the annals of the nuclear protest letter (the lists of addressees become addressors) likewise chronicle a professional self-perpetuation, the nuclear chain letter would draft us into a more urgent and essential enterprise of self-advancement, a commitment to perpetuation per se. Asking us to continue the

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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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