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

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

Laura Stempel Mumford


May Sinclair's
The Tree of Heaven: The Vortex of Feminism, the Community of War

One of the common beliefs of British suffrage-era feminists was that women's equal participation in politics and government would contribute to the abolition of war. Whether because women were viewed as innately pacific, or as having a special investment in the preservation of human life because of their roles as childbearers, 1 it was widely expected that the enfranchisement of women would herald a major change in the means by which international disputes were decided. Until World War I, the issue of women's relation to war was an important touchstone in debates over the position of women, and arguments against women's enfranchisement often rested on the contention that men's role in warfare justified superior civil and political rights. 2 In general, feminists countered this argument with the fact of women's crucial contributions to culture and civilization, even going so far as to say, as did Olive Schreiner, that the risks women ran in giving birth, providing "the primal munition of war," greatly outweighed the risks men took on the battlefield. 3 This was not, however, a universal feminist assumption, and more conservative members of the suffrage movement even conceded the idea of men's greater contribution. Nor were all feminists united in opposing war as a means of settling international conflicts, although such a prowar stance was much more common among antifeminists like Mrs. Humphry Ward.

All of this altered with World War I, however, for it was, ironically, the war that heralded a change in feminist activity, with suffragists converted into war workers, and even the most militant activists released from prison on condition that they pledge to refrain from violence for the duration. While the majority of feminist organizations disbanded, including the militant Women's So

-168-

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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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