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Title: Strategic narratives : American women writers and the First World War
Author: Nolan, Elizabeth.
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis both complements and expands on the recent body of scholarship which, in its attempts to contest the recognition of the experienced combat soldier's voice as the only voice of war, has recovered and re-evaluated women's written responses to conflict. Focusing on the First World War it considers a wide range of narratives written by a diversity of American women - professional authors including Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton and Willa Cather and private individuals whose memoirs and diaries record their experience of war, often on the front line as nurses or relief workers. Some of the material discussed is in the public domain, some is held in the archives of the Imperial War Museum. The study aims to be more inclusive in terms of the writers that are considered to be commentators on war, and it also seeks to widen understandings of what constitutes a war text. Gilman, for instance, is rarely discussed as a war writer, and several of the narratives examined, including Edith Wharton's novel Summer (1917) and Willa Cather's My Antonia (1918), in which the war is most significant by its absence are often ignored in discussions of wartime writings - these are, nonetheless, authentic narratives of conflict. The thesis argues that women occupy a contradictory position in time of war. Many engage in unfamiliar occupations and activities but they also have a heightened awareness of gender. As men are identified as combatant to their noncombatant, participant to their non-participant, their position as women in war and writing about war remains a site of contest. I contend that the women's war texts discussed here are all, to some extent, informed by issues of gender and authority and that in negotiating their contentious position in time of war these women employ a series of similar narrative strategies in order to articulate their experience and to intervene in the way that war is recorded.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available