AuthorWhite-Stanley, Debra Marie
AdvisorWhite, Susan M.
Committee ChairWhite, Susan M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractForeign Bodies: Military Medicine, Modernism and Melodrama traces how representations of warfare in the modernist novel, girls' romances, nursing memoirs, and war films dramatize the humanitarian disaster of war through the figure of woman. My analysis focuses on the visual and literary poetics of violence as troped in and through the bodies of combat nurses. The "uncanny" serves as a lens to explore the complex links between gendered war work and the radical transgression of the boundaries of the nation state and the body experienced during wartime. To establish the unique explanatory power of the uncanny for gender issues, I trace how feminist and postcolonial theorists have revised Freud's analysis of the uncanny. I trace medical metaphors of wounding and infection in the novel and various cinematic adaptations of A Farewell to Arms (1932, 1951, 1957, 1996). I read the letters and diaries of World War I nurse Agnes von Kurowsky against the censored memoirs of American nurses Mary Borden and Ellen La Motte. I show how the uncanny aesthetic adopted by Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms is subverted by these women writers. I explore how these uncanny aesthetics also manifest in adolescent nursing romances from Sue Barton to Cherry Ames. With the onset of World War II, I trace how the discourse of foreign bodies in relation to the metaphor of malaria in the South Pacific. Focusing on the portrayal of the Japanese foreign body, often encoded through off-screen sound, I demonstrate how medical metaphors of malaria operate in films portraying nursing in the South Pacific such as So Proudly We Hail (1943) and Cry Havoc (1943). Turning to the Korean and Vietnam Wars, I explore the representation of post-traumatic stress disorder in M*A*S*H (1970) and in nursing memoirs such as American Daughter Gone to War (1992) and Home Before Morning (1983). I bring this history of nursing representation to bear on media texts concerning the war in Iraq including Baghdad E.R. (HBO, 2006).