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Representations of Women in the Literature of the U.S.-Mexico War

Janel M Simons, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation examines figures of women as represented in the literature of the U.S.-Mexico war in order to think through the ways in which the border conflict was preserved in nineteenth-century U.S. American collective memory. Central to my dissertation is a consideration of the intersections of history, myth, legend, and fiction in the memorialization of this war. This dissertation demonstrates that a close look at fictionalized accounts of women’s experiences of and roles in the U.S.-Mexico war highlights the ways in which historical fictions influence how we remember this moment of our collective past. Focusing on popular accounts of the disputed border region that appeared in print primarily between 1846 and 1855, this study examines the work of two writers, George Lippard’s Legends of Mexico and Augusta Jane Evans’s Inez: A Tale of the Alamo, in addition to a collection of journalistic accounts about the Great Western that were written by various correspondents of the war. These works focus on the nineteenth-century dispute over the U.S-Mexico border in order to commemorate the actions of those involved in the conflict and to offer alternatives to traditional ways of representing war. The representations of women in these texts vacillate between the conventional and the radical. Taken together these figures push at the limits of nineteenth-century conventionality more broadly. This dissertations focuses on representations of the war and the ways that representations of women challenge conventions of gender. This dissertation finds that despite attempts in U.S. American culture more broadly to create a cohesive narrative about the conflict with Mexico these popular attempts ultimately failed to do so, and that the ways in which women are figured in these narratives offer avenues for understanding the implications of the general lack of cohesion in the cultural narrative of the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.

Subject Area

African Studies|Latin American history|American history|Womens studies|American literature

Recommended Citation

Simons, Janel M, "Representations of Women in the Literature of the U.S.-Mexico War" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI13419253.