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“It’s Our War Too”: Barriers to Authorship by Women Writing Vietnam War Poetry


Liu, Grace (2023) “It’s Our War Too”: Barriers to Authorship by Women Writing Vietnam War Poetry. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/r3ec-ev97.


Even though American women had higher rates of involvement in the Vietnam War than any previous war, poems about their experiences were extremely scarce until over a decade after American troops withdrew. A major contributor to the lack of literary representation is the critical dismissal of women’s war poetry as being unable to teach readers meaningful “truths” about war. This thesis examines two collections of female-authored poems, Visions of War, Dreams of Peace and Shallow Graves, which were published in 1991 and 1986 respectively. The former contains poems from 40 women, most of whom served as army nurses; the latter combines the experiences of Wendy Wilder Larsen, an American woman who lived in Vietnam for two years, and Tran Thi Nga, a Vietnamese woman who immigrated to America. The collections reveal that most American women responded to critical expectations either through self-erasure or active rebellion. In contrast to the American women, Nga is granted authority by critics because her Vietnamese perspective is unique in English literature, but her authorship is instead challenged during the process of adapting her story for an American audience.

Item Type:Thesis (Senior thesis (Major))
Subject Keywords:English, Poetry, Vietnam War, Women, Wendy Larsen, Tran Thi Nga
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Biology and Biological Engineering
Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Jurca, Catherine
Thesis Committee:
  • None, None
Defense Date:2023
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04262023-070455932
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:15145
Deposited By: Grace Liu
Deposited On:04 May 2023 16:50
Last Modified:04 May 2023 16:51

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