Providing Background and Context

In order to give the reader quick access to the military dimensions of the period in which the woman warrior appears, we have provided “Notes” in the annotated bibliography section that give some relevant background for the modalities of warfare in effect when particular women warriors operated.

We have included books, articles, essays, and other materials. Several such important companion sources are MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History and Osprey Publishing’s various series on warriors over the ages which have proven very useful to undergraduates and graduates alike in providing introductory and well-illustrated context for the women highlighted.

The articles and books cited in subsequent chapters are easy to read, yet they are based on superb scholarship and lavishly illustrated. This enables their texts to compete with PowerPoint presentations and the Internet. Many students in my classes have found these articles to be stimulating and enlightening, leading to further research rather easily and productively. By providing context for the women of a particular location or time frame, the interested reader can thus learn of the history of the modes of warfare along with the important dimensions of female participation. Some eras, some societies and some modalities of warfare give women better opportunities to participate than others.

While this annotated bibliography seeks to bring together for undergraduate use the scholarly and some popular works depicting the women we have identified as warriors, it is our hope that it also will prove useful to anyone seeking to examine the thousands of female warriors whose participation has added to that process.

Finally there is the question concerning the criteria for including women in the category of “women warriors.” Many other works include only women who have served directly in combat. Others broaden to the scope to any ruler or regent who saw war while they were in charge of its conduct. Still others would have us include women who have dramatically changed or even prophesized change in their broader societies.

Determining what constitutes a woman warrior is a perpetual—and rewarding—undertaking by the classes taking my course “Women at War.” Leaving the definition relatively broad but applying it most judiciously has proven to be the best way to understanding the involvement of women across the globe and throughout time and space.

We have thus cast our net most widely, including women generals and military strategists and leaders as well as women in combat, but the inclusion mesh is moderate, hopefully not too large and not too small. We hope readers will end up forming their own conclusions and weaving their own, surely improved, net.

Scholarship remains, and always will be, a collective enterprise.

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