At the 10A hour with Professor Boose (crosslisted with WGST 42)
Of all the cultural enterprises and big ticket myths in western history, probably none has been as strictly gendered as war. Traditionally, war has been constructed as powerfully gendered binary in which battle is posed as a nearly sacred and exclusively male domain through which young men are initiated into the masculine gender and the male bond. From the west's great classical war narrative of The Iliad onward, the feminine has, by contrast, been defined as that which instigates male-male conflict and that which wars are fought either to save or protect, be it a war to rescue Helen of Troy, to avenge the raped women of Kuwait whose plight was invoked as a cause for the l991 Gulf War, one to protect the faithful (or faithless and betraying) wife at home, or a war to defend the ultimate national repository of the feminine ideal to be protected from the rapacious invasions of the enemy: America the Beautiful, mother land and virgin land. As a counterpart to the protection of the feminine imagined as belonging to one's own males, the narrative either tacitly or overtly allows a soldier to view the all "enemy" women as objects to be raped; and in the most recent wars of ethnic genocide of the 1990s onward, women in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan have become no longer just incidental victims or "collateral damage," but the primary objects of enemy destruction. Starting with the Gulf War, however, the strict spatialization of the American war myth was at least challenged by the new presence of women on the war front, women as POWs, and in the present war in Iraq, women coming home maimed and in body bags; and women have now been integrated—whether successfully or not-- into all of the U. S. military accredited academies. With a special although not exclusive concentration on U.S. culture of the past century, this course will take a look at film, fiction, non fiction and biography, news media and online material, in tracing the strongly gendered myths and narratives that are wrapped up in the cultural understanding of War. Dist: LIT: WCult: W. Course Group III. CA tags Genders and Sexualities, Cultural Studies and Popular Culture, National Traditions and Countertraditions.