Publication Date

Summer 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Susan Shillinglaw


Brats, Military Installations

Subject Areas

American literature; Military studies


There are two Americas. There is the America where families grow up generation after generation in the same geographic location. There is another America. This America moves populations about as if they were post-it notes attached to a bulletin board. Today, Great Lakes, tomorrow, Fort Carson, next week, Fort Wainwright, and so on. In this America, children rarely spend more than two years in the same location. Many are uprooted in the middle of a school year, often the senior year. Many do not know where home is, as their sponsor (the family member in the military) has not lived there in many years. The children of this nomadic group cling to its brand name, Brats, as tenaciously as the owners of Apple or Ralph Lauren do to their products. Brats are the children of people in the military. They often go to school on military installations, belong to organizations sponsored by the military, shop at the Commissary, and buy their clothes at the “Exchange.” Whatever community they live in, they know that they are often viewed as outsiders. What is life like for these children? What is it like living in the shadow of an authoritarian organization or a household ruled by an authoritarian parent, often the patriarch? As these children shift from location to location, how are they affected by the constant creation and destruction of personal relationships? This book gives an unvarnished view into the world of brats.