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"Not According to the Regulation of War": Intimate Civil War Writing by Female Nurses, Soldiers, and Spies

Paine, Kirsten (2019) "Not According to the Regulation of War": Intimate Civil War Writing by Female Nurses, Soldiers, and Spies. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In this dissertation, I build on recent scholarship on the Civil War’s remapping of gender and sexuality, as well as the scholarship focusing on how the war is represented in 19th century literature, to show how women’s Civil War writing uses literary depictions of intimacy to open up the possibility for new roles, relationships, and social networks for women. My dissertation illuminates networks of women soldiers, spies, nurses, administrative workers, and domestic laborers by assembling another network of their literary projects that talk about their Civil War work. I highlight the Civil War as an explicitly intimate event and documentary styles of writing as serious literary endeavors in mediating between intimate domestic relationships and the intimacies that develop through investment in national sentiment, citizenship, social and political life. Women writing about their involvement in the Civil War frequently relate their wartime work experiences in reference to intimacy with other women, whether as fellow workers, friends, or lovers. Their experiences of intimacy, I argue, allow them to imagine and, in some cases, to realize new (and queer) versions of citizenship, new networks of communication, and new avenues for recognizing and expressing desire.

The major texts in this study focus on nursing, soldiering, espionage, and resistance work. Female soldiers and spymasters in particular highlight viable gender non-normativity because they establish precarious intimate affinities and look to alternative conceptions of citizenship for organization. Nurses write about civic intimacy, or relationships formed as a result of networks of communication, through anxious and often conflicted fulfillment of American womanhood. Imprisonment strips some of these women of their ability to preserve their femininity and protect their citizenship, while escaping from the institution of slavery establishes the right to an autonomous female body but does not provide access to legal or judicial definitions of citizenship. This dissertation argues women’s Civil War writing should be included in the history of intimacy in the United States because these women challenge social acceptability and assert what the Civil War meant for the women who fought it on all fronts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Paine, Kirstenklp78@pitt.eduklp78
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeikle-Mills,
Committee MemberGlazener,
Committee MemberFerguson Carr,
Committee MemberTetrault,
Date: 26 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 July 2019
Approval Date: 26 September 2019
Submission Date: 22 September 2019
Access Restriction: 3 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 3 years.
Number of Pages: 240
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: American Literature, American Studies, Civil War, Women, Work, Intimacy, Queer, Louisa M. Alcott, Clara Barton, Mary Livermore, Susie King Taylor, Gender, Race
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2019 14:42
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2022 05:15


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