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Beyond Rosie the Riveter: Women of World War II in American Popular Graphic Art (Culture America (Hardcover)) Paperback – December 17, 2013
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“For Knaff, the iconic Rosie perpetuates in the present a false idea that World War II opened up new and meaningful chances for female self-expression. . . . The story Knaff tells . . . is worth pondering. She deflty unpacks a wide range of diverse images from numerous sources.”—Women’s Review of Books
“This cultural history offers a close, intelligent reading of WWII-era cartoons, comic strips, and posters featuring women and gender relations during and after the war. The author contrasts the iconic posters of Rosie the Riveter welcoming women into men’s jobs with the clearly ambivalent and at times hostile images of women in wartime cartoons and comic strips. Knaff’s history shows women encroaching on male turf, acting unfeminine and harming men. The cartoons highlight men’s fears that women will upend customary gender roles and use their sexuality in perverse and dangerous ways. Knaff argues that such notions in cartoon format provided psychological relief for the unusual and tumultuous circumstances of daily life during wartime. Highly recommended.”—Choice
“A vibrant and compelling narrative that confirms the centrality of sexuality to our understandings of the Second World War and illuminates the extraordinary possibilities of popular graphic art as a cultural source for considering the American past. Offering a deeply nuanced reading of familiar icons like Rosie the Riveter and Wonder Woman, along with other less-known images such as Winnie the Wac and Miss Lace, Knaff persuasively demonstrates that competing versions of female masculinity were the critical means through which wartime anxieties about women’s participation in the military and war work were negotiated.”—Leisa D. Meyer, author of Creating G.I. Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II
“The images Knaff discusses are rich and provocative. . . . An impressive work on a fascinating topic that will make a significant contribution to a lively critical discussion of women and war, of gender roles during WWII, and of the history of American graphic art during this era.”—Laura Browder, author of When Janey Comes Marching Home: Portraits of Women Combat Veterans
About the Author
Donna Knaff is a World War II historian at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and is also former Chief Historian at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.