Gender for the Warfare State : Literature of Women in Combat book cover
1st Edition

Gender for the Warfare State
Literature of Women in Combat

ISBN 9781138675292
Published October 26, 2016 by Routledge
202 Pages

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Book Description

Gender for the Warfare State is the first scholarly investigation into the written works of U.S. women combat veterans in twenty-first century wars. Most recent studies quantify military participation, showing how many women participate in armed services and what their experiences are in a traditionally “male institution.” Many of these treatments regard women as victims solely of enemy fire, even as they are also often victims of their own military apparatus and of their own involvement in global aggression. By applying literary analysis to a sociological question, Gender for the Warfare State views women’s experiences through story and literary traditions that carry meaning into present practices. Goodman shows that women in combat are not just entering and being victimized in “male institutions,” but are also actively changing the story of gender and thus the structure of power that is constructed through gender. Moreover, this book unveils a new narrative of care that affects economic relations more broadly and the contemporary politics of the liberal social contract.

Women’s participation in combat is not just a U.S. event but global and therefore has a deeper historical range than current sociological accounts imply. The book compares the political contexts of women’s entry into war now with their prior, twentieth-century contributions to wars in other cultural settings and then uses this comparison to show a variety of meanings at play in the gender of war.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Women in the War Story: What Work Does Gender Do?

Chapter 2 From Decolonization to Body Bombs: Tragedy, Feminist Political Theory, and the Female Militant

Chapter 3 A Critique of Violence in the Age of Mechanical Drone Warfare

Chapter 4 Killers and Spies: The Postcolonial Legacy in Real Estate

Chapter 5 The Woman, the Worker, the Warrior, and the Writer: The Military Nation and the Making of Female Neoliberal Subjectivity


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Robin Truth Goodman is Professor of English and Director of the Literature Program at Florida State University. Her recent books include Literature and the Development of Feminist Theory (ed., Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Gender Work: Feminism After Neoliberalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).


"Gender for the Warfare State helps us to think afresh about how we can use literature, including women soldiers' own writings, to shed light on and pose new questions about the dynamic relationships between militarism, the liberal state, wars, women's soldiering, and gender ideologies." – Cynthia Enloe, author of Globalization and Militarism: Feminist Make the Link, 2e (Rowman & LIttlefield, 2016)

"Gender for the Warfare State offers provocative insights along a trustworthy road map that lead us all the way back to the earliest intersection of female warrior and literature. In doing so, Goodman provides fresh analysis on both twenty-first century warfare and female subjectivity in combat." – Tracy Crow, author of On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story (Potomac Books, 2015)