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Laughing with MedusaClassical Myth and Feminist Thought$
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Vanda Zajko and Miriam Leonard

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199237944

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237944.001.0001

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A Woman’s History of Warfare

A Woman’s History of Warfare

(p.189) 7 A Woman’s History of Warfare
Laughing with Medusa

Ellen O’Gorman

Oxford University Press

The feminist project with history has often been glossed as ‘writing women back into history’, in which case women's role in warfare would seem to be long overdue for revisionist treatment. But the problem is that military history appears to stand forth as the quintessentially patriarchal discourse. Feminist historiography attempts to counteract the effects of this discourse by configuring the project of writing women back into history as a transformation not only of women but also of history. This chapter questions the failure of feminism to engage in the project of narrating a history of warfare. It argues that the figure of Helen of Troy in ancient accounts of war offers a potential model for the feminist historian to rethink history's accounts of causality and accountability. It also compares different versions of ‘the Helen myth’ to redirect attention to previously unrecognised thematics.

Keywords:   warfare, military history, feminism, women, Helen of Troy, causality, accountability, myth

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