Skip to main content
Banner Image

Femina Militaris: Description

This LibGuide supports the NWC Femina Militaris elective. This LibGuide transforms the Femina Militaris syllabus into a web-based finding aid. Items in the readings and bibliographies are linked to online sources, where available.



COPYRIGHT: Mary Raum, PhD  Professor, National Security Affairs Department

Mary Raum, PhD-Professor, National Security Affairs Department Conolly Hall Room 328

Femina and militaris are the Latin derivatives for ‘female military.’  The female in the military has a long history of nearly four hundred centuries and is found in the stories of considerable cultures and nations.  Students will read about, analyze and discuss a variety of biographies and autobiographies and articles as well as utilize art and watch films related to ancient and modern women and their roles in the profession of arms.  The studies will cover many nationalities and periods in the history of war. In addition there is a brief review of 20th and 21st century conceptualizations of issues in military gender.

The following are representative of but do not completely designate the JPME tools and concepts to which this curriculum has application.  Levels of learning achievement for the course will be primarily in the domains of Knowledge, Evaluation and Valuing. Learning areas of relevance are as follows: key strategic concepts, ethics and the profession of arms; critical thinking and analysis; evaluate ethical and legal ramifications of specific historic or contemporary decisions; evaluate roles, relations and functions in security situations and personnel; evaluate leadership in times of stress; the historical nature of war; the minority in war, the history of war.  Military situations covered will be special operations, airpower, front-line battles, technology and naval power.  Regional and time frame emphases are:  Women warriors prior to modern times, United States, Revolution, Civil War,  World Wars, Vietnam, Iraq , Great Britain World War II and modern pirating, Serbia/Russia World War I,  Lebanon.

The course is divided into five units of study. 
Unit 1, Overview and Gender begins by introducing the history of women in the military with a film that recites the female contribution from the Revolution to Desert Storm.  The second component of the unit is a series of readings from 1988-2008 that discuss from a pro/con point of view, the full or partial inclusion of females in the profession of arms. Tailhook ’91 and the U.S. Navy Institutions in Crisis Case Study from the ethics department of Duke University is presented.

Unit 2, The United States Navy is devoted to several characters that have helped define the United States Navy from the age of sail to the modern day. Information from the biography of Admiral Grace Hopper is highlighted.

Unit 3, Images of Femina Militaris is broken into six study sessions that describe the female in military from ancient times to today.  The units are:  (1) Women Warriors and the Warrior Queen: Iceni: 60AD (2) Incognito in Man’s Dress: 1700’s-1800’s United States Revolution and Civil War (3) The Most Decorated: World War I 1900-1915: Serbia and Russia’s Freedom Fighters; (4) The Spy: World War II 1940’s United States and Europe; (5) Pilot: World War II 1940’s United States; (6) Modern Sisterhood 1990-2010 Current Conflict and Al Jazerra’s Lebanon’s Women Warriors.

Unit 4, Femina POW relays information about the experiences of three female POW’s.  The unit begins by showing the World War II film, So Proudly We Hail in which the storyline is based on a book written by Army nurse, Junita Hipps- one of the “Angels of Bataan” who served in Bataan and Corregidor during the time when McArthur withdrew to Australia which ultimately led to the surrender of US and Philippine troops to Japan.  Readings are selected from Monika Schwinn’s book, We Came to Help recounting her experience as a captive of the Vietnamese for nearly four years.  Schwinn was serving as an NGO for the Maltese Aid Service and is likely the only female POW to have been interned at the Hanoi Hilton.  Additional readings are considered from Juanita Redmond’s book, I Served in Bataan and the experiences of POW Shoshona Johnson during Operation Iraqi Freedom from the work, I’m Still Standing which describes her 22 day captivity. 

Unit 5, Femina Militaris in Art and Film. The final unit of the course is devoted to the female military professional in literature and the arts.  Poetry as well as films will be highlighted.

Several films will be shown throughout the course.  War films convey the social values and mores of the period in which they are produced and address attitudes not only toward war, but also toward topics closely associated with war.  Times of war effect rapid changes in national ideas and these are often represented in the form of written, visual and artistic media.

Those which might be utilized are:  In Service To America: A History of Women in the Military Revolution to Desert Storm; Boudicca Warrior Queen; Where the Yellow Lemon Blooms; Dishonored; The American Experience: Fly Girls; Paradise Road and So Proudly we Hail. These may be substituted at the discretion of the instructor.

Students will be required to complete one assignment in the form of a presentation developed from a specific artifact relative to the topics of the course.  The presentation will be based on a female warrior in art, fiction, film or history or current events.


  • An increased knowledge about the history of females in the profession of arms.
  • Discussion of unique ideas and concepts alive today about the role of femina militaris in the profession of arms.
  • Comprehension of the facts, principles and interpretations of the role of femina militaris utilizing modern and historical examples
  • Apply the comprehension derived from the course to a professional presentation.
  • Analyze, synthesize and evaluate a variety of roles and circumstances of femina militaris in a diverse set of situations and time frames.