ALC: Women in War: A Historical View of Why They Mattered (A Lot)

Alumni Learning Consortium

ALC: Women in War: A Historical View of Why They Mattered (A Lot)

  • October 21, 2021
  • 4:00 PM

The woman warrior is always cast as an anomaly—Joan of Arc, not G.I. Joan. But in fact, women have always gone to war—or fought back when war came to them. Women fought to avenge their families, defend their homes (or cities or nations), win independence from a foreign power, expand their kingdom’s boundaries, or satisfy their ambition. They battled disguised as men. They fought, undisguised, on the ramparts of besieged cities. Some were skilled swordsmen or trained snipers; others fought with improvised weapons. They have been hailed as heroines and cursed as witches, sluts, or harridans.

In this lecture, Dr. Pamela Toler shares stories of historical women for whom battle was not a metaphor. Featuring both well-known and obscure examples — drawn from the ancient world through the twentieth century, and from Asia and Africa, as well as from the West — she introduces a group of women warriors who turned out to be more important than she expected: the most forgotten women in the category of forgotten women warriors. And she debunks the myth that the only women who fought were larger-than-life exceptions.

Pamela D. Toler – University of Chicago

Armed with a PhD in history, a well-thumbed deck of library cards, and a large bump of curiosity, author, speaker, and historian, Pamela D. Toler translates history for a popular audience. She goes beyond the familiar boundaries of American history to tell stories from other parts of the world as well as history from the other side of the battlefield, the gender line, or the color bar. Toler is the author of eight books of popular history for children and adults.  Her newest book, Women Warriors:  An Unexpected History is due out February, 2019.  Her work has appeared in Aramco World, Calliope, History Channel Magazine, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History and