Modernist Women Writers and War
Trauma and the Female Body in Djuna Barnes, H.D., and Gertrude Stein
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
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The authors in this study offer a different and much needed perspective on war: an embodied, feminist critique of trauma and the identity politics of war and war narratives. Rather than the traditional accounts of war by soldiers and male civilians depicting men in battle, the selected female authors investigate and engage with the gender politics of war and gendered...
01 Circumventing the Circumscription of Marginalization
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Djuna Barnes is unable to position war directly within the experience of female characters in her literary output because she did not experience World War I or World War II in the ways that H.D. or Gertrude Stein did and thus could not bear witness like they could in their work. Barnes spent World War I and the majority of World...
02 Validating Female War Experience through Literary Witnessing
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An insistence on a female perspective defines H.D.’s war writing. Primarily interested in female subjects throughout her work, H.D. privileges the experiences and stories of women. Trilogy (1944–46), for instance, relies on first-person literary witnessing, as does Bid Me to Live (1960). Like Djuna Barnes, H.D. writes corporeality and...
03 A War Heroine in the Domestic Economy
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Unlike Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein comments explicitly on her war experiences at great length. She also discusses her personal experience with war much more directly than H.D. through her autobiographical accounts of life during World War I, although Stein also fictionalizes her experience of World War II in...
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Initially, I became interested in the subject of trauma because of the lack of scholarly attention to it in American women’s modernist literature. I found that trauma was discussed in literature in amorphous terms and without a critical framework. Part of the challenge in writing about representations of literary trauma critically is the interdisciplinary focus of contemporary...
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Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2011