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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Rhodes, Jacqueline


Military oriented publications Army Times and Veterans of Foreign Wars publish stories praising wounded warriors returning to duty. This praise complicates the conception of masculinity and ability among service-members. One reading of Judith Butler’s chapter “Bodies that Matter” aids understanding how the military forms bodies of service-members and how these bodies overcome injury. Simi Linton criticizes this rhetoric of overcoming as oppressive, and Garry B. Trudeau’s illustrated narrative The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time offers a positive alternative to reenlisting. This alternative resists this militaristic rhetoric, which will lead to detrimental consequences.

The military forms civilians into service-members, andButler’s reading of Plato’s masculine autogenesis applies to the formation of service-members. Military and civilian audiences accept this reproduction of service-members, andButler’s resistance to Plato serves individuals and society.

Linton’s critique of the rhetoric of overcoming also serves individuals and society. This rhetoric causes distress among individuals with disabilities, and if the military and society embrace this rhetoric, individuals with and without disabilities will suffer.

Fortunately, Trudeau diverts this rhetoric of overcoming. His narrative reminds audiences a return to civilian life does not end one’s masculinity. Rehabilitation and recovery require dedication and focus, two virtues gained through military training and service.

As members of society, we need to recognize the detrimental affects of this rhetoric of return. If we accept this conception of masculinity, it will influence our understanding of masculinity and ability, which will then permeate throughout society.