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Combining literary analysis, cultural history, and feminist theory, Disarming the Nation argues that the Civil War functioned in women's writings to connect female bodies with the body politic. Women writers used the idea of "civil war" as a metaphor to represent struggles between and within women—including struggles against the cultural prescriptions of "civility." At the same time, these writers also reimagined the nation itself, foregrounding women in their visions of America at war and in peace. In a substantial afterword, Young shows how contemporary black and white women—including those who crossdress in Civil War reenactments—continue to reshape the meanings of the war in ways startlingly similar to their nineteenth-century counterparts.
Learned, witty, and accessible, Disarming the Nation provides fresh and compelling perspectives on the Civil War, women's writing, and the many unresolved "civil wars" within American culture today.