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When Inquiry is Blocked: Addams's "Personal Reactions During War"

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Using Dewey’s pattern of inquiry as a template, I challenge two widely held interpretations of “Personal Reactions During the War,” a chapter in Jane Addams’s 1922 book, Peace and Bread in Time of War. First, although the chapter is generally read as an autobiographical account of the psychic costs Addams suffered during World War One, I show how it gives a theoretically sophisticated exploration of how war blocked inquiry for an international group of peace advocates from both sides of the war. Second, the chapter’s concluding sentence, where Addams declares her “categorical belief that a man’s primary allegiance is to his vision of the truth,” is generally read in a straightforward way. I show how Addams intended it to be read ironically, as demonstrating how the war had made a travesty of her deepest commitments.

Author(s):

Marilyn Fischer    
University of Dayton
United States

 

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