Our wounded, our wounds: Disruption, ideological permeability and transference of agony in Louisa May Alcott's “Hospital Sketches” and Walt Whitman's “Memoranda during the War” and “The Wound-Dresser”
Traphagen, Sarah Katelyn
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Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman shared strikingly similar Civil War nursing experiences. They engaged in the same cultural and personal work within their respective hospitals and recognized the dissolution of boundaries inside of the hospital. At the same time, yet in different places, Alcott and Whitman entered into the hospital space with consideration that the workings on the inside disrupted the circumstances on the outside. Alcott’s “Hospital Sketches” and Whitman’s Memoranda During the War and “The Wound-Dresser” illustrate that the ideological separation between masculinity and femininity and the divide between Northern and Southern national ideologies prove to be indistinct and permeable within the hospital. Further, Alcott and Whitman absorbed the horrific scenery and the emotional agony of the soldiers through gaze, touch, and immersion, all points of transference. Each write of this to remember, heal and release the trauma they endured by paradoxically returning to their own wounds.