Evan J. Syverson - "Changing Portraits: Feminism, Masculine Failure, and the Virgin-Whore Dichotomy in Twentieth Century American War Literature"
Several major American authors of 20th century war fiction utilize the motifs of the enemy and women. The depiction of these motifs, however, changes with each successive author, from William Faulkner to Ernest Hemingway to Joseph Heller. These authors represent a shift in the portrayal of women's roles, from traditional, domestic roles to empowered, independent roles. The enemy, meanwhile, is transformed from a foreign “other” into an internal “us,” as individual complacency begins to be characterized as the biggest threat to one's life. Examination of the primary texts, secondary scholarship, and historical information all suggest that the growing sense of agency among women actually represents the answer to the moral questions these authors raise regarding complacency. Women are the vanguard of these authors' shared worldview.
Evan J. Syverson is a first year M.A. student on the Literature and Cultural Studies track at Illinois State University. He received his B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Northern Illinois University, where he studied English and Psychology. His research interests include Twentieth Century American Literature, Twentieth Century Anglophone Fiction, Marxist and Feminist Criticism, Identity Construction, Hemingway, and Faulkner.
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