front cover of Armed Ambiguity
Armed Ambiguity
Women Warriors in German Literature and Culture in the Age of Goethe
Julie Koser
Northwestern University Press, 2016

Armed Ambiguity is a fascinating examination of the tropes of the woman warrior constructed by print culture—including press reports, novels, dramatic works, and lyrical texts—during the decades-long conflict in Europe around 1800.

In it, Julie Koser sheds new light on how women’s bodies became a battleground for competing social, cultural, and political agendas in one of the most pivotal periods of modern history. She traces the women warriors in this work as reflections of the social and political climate in German-speaking lands, and she reveals how literary texts and cultural artifacts that highlight women’s armed insurrection perpetuated the false dichotomy of "public" versus "private" spheres along a gendered fault line. Koser illuminates how reactionary visions of "ideal femininity" competed with subversive fantasies of new femininities in the ideological battle being waged over the restructuring of German society.


front cover of Women Warriors in Early Modern Spain
Women Warriors in Early Modern Spain
A Tribute to Barbara Mujica
Susan L. Fischer
University of Delaware Press, 2019
Although scholars often depict early modern Spanish women as victims, history and fiction of the period are filled with examples of women who defended their God-given right to make their own decisions and to define their own identities. The essays in Women Warriors in Early Modern Spain examine many such examples, demonstrating how women battled the status quo, defended certain causes, challenged authority, and broke barriers. Such women did not necessarily engage in masculine pursuits, but often used cultural production and engaged in social subversion to exercise resistance in the home, in the convent, on stage, or at their writing desks.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

front cover of Women Warriors in Romantic Drama
Women Warriors in Romantic Drama
Wendy C. Nielsen
University of Delaware Press, 2013

Women Warriors in Romantic Drama examines a recurring figure that appears in French, British, and German drama between 1789 and 1830: the woman warrior. The term itself, “woman warrior,” refers to quasi-historical female soldiers or assassins. Women have long contributed to military campaigns as canteen women. Camp followers ranged from local citizenry to spouses and prostitutes, and on occasion, women assisted men in combat. However, the woman warrior is a romantic figure, meaning a fanciful ideal, despite the reality of women’s participation in select scenes of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The central claim of this book is the woman warrior is a way for some women writers (Olympe de Gouges, Christine Westphalen, Karoline von Günderrode, and Mary Robinson) to explore the case for extending citizenship to women. This project focuses primarily on theater for the reason that the stage simulates the public world that female dramatists and their warriors seek to inhabit. Novels and poetry clearly belong to the realm of fiction, but when audiences see women fighting onstage, they confront concrete visions of impossible women. I examine dramas in the context of their performance and production histories in order to answer why so many serious dramas featuring women warriors fail to find applause, or fail to be staged at all. Dramas about women warriors seem to sometimes contribute to the argument for female citizenship when they take the form of tragedy, because the deaths of female protagonists in such plays often provoke consideration about women’s place in society.

Consequently, where we find women playing soldiers in various entertainment venues, farce and satire often seem to dominate, although this book points to some exceptions. Censorship and audience demand for comedies made producing tragedies difficult for female playwrights, who battled additional obstacles to fashioning their careers. I compare male (Edmund Eyre, Heinrich von Kleist) and female writers’ dramatizations of the woman warrior. This analysis shows that the difficult project of getting audiences to take women warriors seriously resembles women writers’ struggles to enter the ostensibly male domains of tragedy and the public sphere.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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