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Apocalypse, Joan of Arc, Twenty-First Century


Joan of Arc has stood alone among legendary figures of the Middle Ages in her capacity to be appropriated and employed for a host of modern noble causes. However, a fresh examination of Joan’s words and deeds reveals that her aims and objectives were not the universal “greater goods” of modern activists who have used her story to craft their own narratives. I propose that Joan’s continued attractiveness as a cultural icon now faces two major obstacles. First, in the wake of the rapid secularization of modern western society and the evolution of social mores related to gender identity and sexuality, the piously motivated gender-bending career of this androgynous “virgin crusader” might lose its popular appeal. Second, in the post-9/11 world of global terrorism, the apocalyptic nature of Joan’s political agenda and her passionate call to arms are especially problematic. The modern geopolitical landscape is plagued with religiously inspired acts of terror and sectarian violence. Joan’s conflation of her political agenda with God’s will, and the violent rhetoric and methods that she used to accomplish her mission can no longer reasonably serve as a guide for cultural or political discourse, either in domestic or international politics