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Title: Writing US identities in the wars without frontlines : literary perspectives on the Persian Gulf and Iraq wars
Author: Pitchford, J.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2011
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For many cultural commentators, the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) signalled a new era in which technological advances transformed warfare into what Jean Baudrillard refers to as a virtual experience epitomised by “surgical strikes” and “smart-bombs”. In contrast, the Iraq War (2003-2009) was hailed by many as a return to a more conventional form of combat in which soldiers fought their enemy in face-to-face interactions. This thesis argues that such an analysis of the conflicts overlooks the complexity of the war experience for many Gulf and Iraq War combatants. It therefore seeks to construct a reading of the literary responses to these conflicts, including novels, memoirs, and poetry, as well as alternative forms of narrative, which acknowledges the complexity of each war. Whilst it is important to recognise the ways in which Gulf War combatants experienced virtual war and Iraq War soldiers experienced guerrilla warfare, it is equally important to acknowledge the ways in which these conflicts resisted popular perceptions of them, and how this incongruence affected the combatants. The specificity of each of these conflicts produced multiple literary responses which indicate that combatants‟ fragmented experiences of contemporary war often resulted in a crisis of the unified self. This thesis undertakes a thematic study of US identities in the existing corpus of Gulf and Iraq War narratives, addressing the ways in which the unique nature of each conflict shaped soldiers‟ experience of war, how transformations in military technology impacted on the perceived gendering of the military, and how technology affected national identity and the perception of the “other”. Crucially, it also examines the ways in which new communication technologies enabled Iraqi civilians to write back to Western discourses of the latter conflict.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available