POSC 355 Contemporary Feminist Thought: Women and War

Winter 2002

Barbara Allen
Office hours by appt.
sign-up Willis 408
SH 252

The Course

Does soldiering make a "man?" Is military service a necessary role for a "citizen?" Can a citizen be other than male? If not, what is the corresponding civic role of "female citizen?" If so, would gender equity in the military be one of the primary demands feminists should make on their governments? Where are the women? Does feminist theory locate women citizens as those who help enable the warrior, disable the militarized state, or gain equity through the militarized state? These are some of the obvious questions that a course on women and war might bring up, but there are other more basic or more nuanced concerns that this course will also raise. For example, consider the meanings of "sovereignty," "state," and "government"; consider also the empirical fact that women are "soldiering" in a post-colonial world to create independent "national homes" that will be based on the "traditional" gender patterns of, say, a theocratic state. What can feminist theory say about the complexity of gender meanings and sexualities deployed in the post-colonial nation-state? Or simply reflect a moment on the genderlessness of many of our political science models — of the individual, the citizen, state actors, states. Is gender really of so little consequence in domestic or international realpolitik? If gender matters, then we may have to think more critically about our theoretical models in political science and international relations. By exploring the meaning of "women" and "war," and contemporary feminist critique of the militarization of women (and men and citizen?) this course hopes to raise questions about our sciences of politics and our approach as citizens to the difficult questions facing our self-governing society.


The following books have been ordered for the course:

Allen Bréubé. 1990. Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women In World War Two. New York: Free Press.

Jean Bethke Elshtain. 1987. Women and War. New York: Basic Books.

Cynthia Enloe. 1990. Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Relations. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Michel Foucault. 1980. The History of Sexuality V1: An Introduction. New York: Vintage.

Milissa Herbert. 1998. Camouflage Isn’t Only for Combat: Gender Sexuality and Women in the Military. New York: New York University Press.

Leisa Meyer. 1996. Creating GI Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women’s Army Corps During World War II. New York: Columbia University Press.

Albert Memmi. 1965. The Colonizer and the Colonized. New York: Beacon.

Jonathan Shay. 1994. Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character. New York: Simon & Schuster.

On reserve:

Julianne Burton. 1992. "Don (Juanito) Duck and the Imperial-Patriarchal Unconscious: Disney Studios, the Good Neighbor Policy, and the Packaging of Latin America," in Parker et al. Nationalities & Sexualities.

Lynda Boose. 1993. "Techno-Muscularity and the ‘Boy Eternal’: From the Quagmire to the Gulf," in Miriam Cooke and Angela Woollacott, Gendered War Talk.

Carol Cohn. 1993. "Wars, Wimps, and Women: Talking Gender and Thinking War," in Miriam Cooke and Angela Woollacott, Gendered War Talk.

Cynthia Enloe. 1983. Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women’s Lives. London: South End Press.

Cynthia Enloe. 1993. The Morning After: Sexual Poltics at the End of the Cold War.

Paul Fussell. 1989. Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. 1995. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.

Geraldine Heng and Janadas Devan. 1992. "State Fatherhood: The Politics of Nationlism, Sexuality, and Race in Singapore," in Parker et al. Nationalities & Sexualities.

Linda Kerber. 1990. "May all Our Citizens be Soldiers and all our Soldiers be Citizens: The Ambiguities of Female Citizenship in the New Nation," in Jean Elshtain and Sheila Tobias. Women, Militarism, and War.

Edward Said. 1996. "From Orientalism" in Padmini Mongia, ed. Contemporary Postcolonial Theory.

Andrew Parker, Mary Russo, Doris Sommer, and Patricia Yaeger. 1992. "Introduction" from Nationalities & Sexualities.

Stanley Rosenberg. 1993. "The Threshold of Thrill: Life Stories in the Skies Over Southeast Asia," in Miriam Cooke and Angela Woollacott, Gendered War Talk.

Klaus Theweleit, 1993. The Bomb’s Womb and the Gender of War (War Goes on Preventing Women from Becoming the Mothers of Invention)" in Miriam Cooke and Angela Woollacott, Gendered War Talk.

J. Ann Tickner. 1991. "Hans Morganthau’s principles of political realism: a feminist reformulation," in Rebecca Grant and Kathleen Newland. Gender and International Relations.


This is a research seminar and your major assignment (in addition to coming to class prepared to discuss the readings on the syllabus for that day) is a research paper. Since I will be working with you on the craft of research design, your paper may take one of several forms, including an extensive literature review essay, a theoretical exposition, a full-blown research design, or a case study that will lead to a research design. We will have at least one optional workshop on research methodology scheduled outside of our regular meeting time. I have broken down the research protocol into what I hope are manageable goals and deadlines through out the term. It simply doesn’t work to undertake this sort of project in the waning weeks of class. Please make every effort to turn in your assignments on time. In addition to the research paper you will be responsible for leading one class discussion and will turn in a discussion paper (analytical exposition on one point or one of the readings for your day) of 3-5 pages in length during the class period after you lead discussion.

Grades will be computed as follows:

Discussion paper
Research paper

More thoughts: Although this course does not have a formal list of prerequisites, I have constructed the syllabus with some assumptions about previous reading you have done in other classes. Women’s studies students will no doubt have read ideas on gender difference, sexualities, the ethics of care, and maternal thinking, for example. You should be ready to speak up about authors such as Carol Gilligan, Sara Ruddick, Judith Butler, Shane Phalen, and Nancy Chodorow, for example. International relations students should be ready to offer ideas from such thinkers as Hans Morgenthau, Robert Keohane, Kenneth Walz, Robert Gilpin, and the great man himself, Karl von Clausewitz. Political theory folks, hope you can remember Thomas Hobbes, Niccolò Macchiavelli, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Of course I’m always hoping you recall the Federalist and Alexis de Tocqueville and every educated person should have read Homer’s Iliad — if you haven’t you must before we get to the readings in week seven (that’s an assignment). Some of the readings are graphically violent or disturbing in other ways; for example the works near the end of the course by Shay, Grossman, and Fussell may be really overwhelming. I’ll give out additional warnings and talk about options for other sorts of reading as we go along, but in truth, war is not a light topic and an indulging ourselves in the hope that we can intellectualize it as scholars is a dangerous practice. So, know in advance that I do not intend to traumatize us with these readings — if that’s the effect we’ll need to figure out how to take an emotional break without retreating into the games of our theoretical mazes.

Part I: Theoretical Bearings: Gender, Sexuality, Civic Virtue, and International Relations

Thur Jan 3 Introductory

Read: Elshstain, W&W, intro and not-a-soldier’s story

Tues Jan 8 Sexuality & "Sovereignty"— personal and public powers?

Read: Foucault, History V 1 parts 4 & 5

Thurs Jan 10 Gender and Concepts of Power in International Relations

Read: Tichner, "Hans Morgenthau’s Principles" (reserve)

Enloe, B,B, &B Ch 1 & 3

Cohn, "Wars, Wimps, and Women" (reserve)

Tues Jan 15 Nationalities and Sexualities

Read: Enloe, B,B &B Ch 2 & 6

Parker et al. Intro to Nationalities & Sexualities

Heng & Devan, "State Fatherhood"

Burton, "Don (Juanito) Duck" (on reserve)

Thurs Jan 17 Nationalities, Gender, and Postcolonial thought

Read: Memmi, Colonizer and Colonized (all)

Said, "from Orientalism" (on reserve)

Tues Jan 22 (Gendered Western) War Tradition in Political Theory— Armed Civic Virtue I

Read: Elshtain W&W Ch 2-3

Thurs Jan 24 Armed Civic Virtue II

Read: Elshtain W&W Ch 4

************************ Research Proposals Due in Class********************

Part II: Gendered War Histories and Concepts of Citizenship

Tues Jan 29 Gendered Liberties and Obligations — Defense and Citizenship

Read: Kerber "May all Our Citizens be Soldiers (reserve)

Elshtain W&W Ch 5

Thurs Jan 31 Conscientious Refusal, Violence, Nonviolence, and Gender

Read: Elshtain W&W Ch 6

Enloe, Morning After Ch 1 (on reserve)

Enloe, B,B&B Ch 4

Tues Feb 5 Sooo--Military Service, the Road to Equality?

Read: Herbert, Camouflage (all)

Thurs Feb 7 Militarism and the (Inevitable?) Construction of Gender Difference

Read: Enloe, Morning After Ch 3, 5, 6

Rosenberg, "The Threshold of Thrill"

Boose, "Techno-Muscularity and the ‘Boy Eternal’"

Theweleit, "The Bomb’s Womb" (all reserve)

Tues Feb 12 Before you decide--More irony in studying the empirical effects of military service on sexuality, citizenship and constructions of civil rights

Read: Meyer, Creating GI Jane (all)

Bréubé, Coming Out Under Fire Ch 1, 2,8-10

Thurs Feb 14 Just When You Thought it Was Clear

Read: Enloe, Does Khaki Become You? Ch1-3,5,6 (reserve)

*********************Literature Review Due in Class**********************

Part III: Militarism and Feminism, Gender and War— Social and Political Meanings

Tues Feb 19 Militarism and Feminism:Theoretical and Empirical Conclusions

Read: Elshtain W&W Ch 7

Enloe, Morning After Ch 2, 7-9 (reserve)

Thurs Feb 21 Maybe We Should Have Asked this Earlier

What Do American Combatants Say--or how do those who know construct their experience?

Read: Fussell, Wartime, Ch 1-12, 15 (reserve)

********************* Research Paper Draft Due in Class *******************

Tues Feb 26 War Policy and Society in a Personal-Is-Political-World

Read: Grossman, On Killing Sections1, 3, Section 4 Ch 6, Section 6-8 (reserve)

Thurs Feb 28 Other Legacies

Read: Shay, Achilles in Vietnam Ch 1-5, 9-11, conclusion

Tues Mar 5 What Does Political Science Have to Say about Gender and War?

Discussion of Our Research

Thurs Mar 7 What Do We Have to Say about Gender and Political Science?

Our Summation

*******************Research Papers Due in Class*******************