Date Awarded

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Leisa D Meyer

Committee Member

Chandos Brown

Committee Member

Arthur Knight

Committee Member

Hiroshi Kitamura


The concept of “warrior” has become a centerpiece of the twenty-first century US Army identity. The term “warrior” dominates the Army’s various initiatives and programs and is central to the service’s values and ideals. Since the Army deploys the term so liberally, the term has been used in seemingly contrasting ways: sometimes in strict relation to ground combat positions and other times in reference to soldiers in nontraditional domains like cyber- and drone-warfare. In a similar vein, the Army uses the term both as an honorific for exemplary soldiers and as a generic substitute for the term “soldier.” This dissertation traces the historical use of the term both in the military and in general society to delineate the archetypal warrior that the current Army warrior stems from and what it symbolizes. In doing so, this project engages “gender lenses” to reveal how the concept is gendered and has a gendering effect on the overall service branch. This dissertation finds that there are two warrior models that the Army alludes to in relation to today’s Army warrior: the Spartan warriors and the Indigenous warriors. The Army also constructs the warrior in opposition to third-world combatant models such as Japanese soldiers during WWII and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Close reading of these prototypes and counterexamples reveals that the model US Army warrior persistently remains White and male despite the term’s occasional application to servicemembers in nontraditional positions. The last section of this dissertation follows the transnational journey of the US Army’s warrior concept to South Korea and reveals the enduring cultural influence of the US military in South Korea. It also finds that, in both the US Army and the South Korean Army, the concept symbolizes nostalgia for imaginary past of glorious days.



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