Wartime Cosmopolitanism: Cosmofeminism in Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis

Susan Stanford Friedman, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Vol. 32, No. 1 (Spring 2013), 23-52

This comparative essay argues that Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas (1938) and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2000-2001) advocate a cosmofeminism “from the side” that refuses loyalty to nation-states at war that do violence to their own citizens while claiming to protect them. With attention to the texts’ differing historical contexts and forms, the essay challenges the new cosmopolitan discourse contrasting above versus below, old versus new, and high versus low cosmopolitanisms and argues that Three Guineas and Persepolis share a gendered cosmopolitanism—a cosmofeminism from the side—based in women’s second-class citizenship and resistance to nationalist patriotism. The essay claims that Woolf’s iconic line, “As a woman, I have no country,” attacks the nation-state from an anarchist/pacifist perspective, rather than promoting global feminism, as the statement is typically read. The essay contrasts Satrapi’s standpoint as political exile loyal to her reviled nation but not to its violent regime with Woolf’s pacifist anarchism.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]