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"Both Kinds of Arms: Gender and Recent Visions of the Civil War,"

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Although much of the article is so closely focused on specific texts (civil war documentaries) that it is not illuminating for a study of Birth of a Nation, there are some points that could be expanded upon in relationship to Birth. Tara looks at Civil War tourist sites and at Ken Burns' The Civil War and analyzes the obscurement of gender and race within claims to authenticity and a preoccupation with military detail. In looking at tourist sites as political combat zones, she suggests that the larger cultural and economic effects of the war get displaced as the war's impact is conceived solely as a military impact. A rhetoric of authenticity stands in for critique.

A couple things are of particular interest: her citing of Bill Farrell's critique of Burns' The Civil War as overly dependent on a metaphor of the nation as a family (here she makes reference to this same strategy in The Birth of a Nation) and her description of the prototypical image of women in wartime (i.e., as patriotic supporters, framed narrowly in the service of a myth of nationhood). There are probably a number of topics that Tara could speak to (and we might have a better idea of this if we can track down a copy of her manuscript on southern femininity); however, from this article alone, it seems that she could speak to the focus on military detail and authenticity in the film and in reviews of the film (the "mammoth" and the "authentic" within Civil War representations); the role of women in wartime; and the metaphor of the nation as family with the South recuperated as prodigal son.

ELS