This dissertation examines contemporary U.S. women writing about war, with primarily women subjects and protagonists, from 1991-2013, in fiction, memoir, and media. The writers situate women at the center…
This dissertation examines contemporary U.S. women writing about war, with primarily women subjects and protagonists, from 1991-2013, in fiction, memoir, and media. The writers situate women at the center of war texts and privilege their voices as authoritative speakers in war, whether as civilians and soldiers trying to survive or indigenous women preparing for the possibility of war. I argue that these authors are rewriting scripts of war to reflect gendered experiences and opening new ways of thinking about war. Women Rewriting Scripts of War argues that Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Almanac of the Dead juxtaposes an indigenous Story concept against a white industrialized national “Truth,” and indigenous women characters will resort to war if needed to oppose it. Silko’s and the other texts here challenge readers to unseat assumptions about the sovereignty of the U.S. and other countries, about the fixedness of gender, of capitalism, and of how humans relate to each other‒and how we should. I argue in Essay 3 that the script of “the body” or “the soldier” in military service can be expanded by moving toward language and concepts from feminist and queer theory and spectrums of gender and sexuality. This can contribute to positive change for all military members. In each of the texts, there are some similarities in connections with others. Connections enable solidarity for change, possibilities for healing, and survival; indeed, without connections with others to work together, survival is not possible. Changes to established economic structures become necessary for women in Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible; I argue that women engaging in alternative modes of economy subvert the dominant economic constraints, gender hierarchies, and social isolation during and after war in the Congo. In Essay 5, I explore two fictional texts about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Helen Benedict's novel Sand Queen and Katey Schultz’s short story collection Flashes of War. The connections in these women’s texts about war are not idealized, and they function as the antithesis to the fragmentation and isolation of postmodern texts.