A long way home : cinema and the cultural map of America, 2001-2011
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This thesis addresses a set of transformations in the symbolic construction of America, as reflected by a number of films released during what is commonly referred to as the post 9/11 period. Following a rich debate in the field of American literary studies, the study investigates the self-image of the nation as projected by four representative films of the decade. Throughout the chapters, the central hypothesis of the thesis is that the cultural symbology of the nation, its symbolic map, continues to act as a territorialising force within the diegetic universes of the texts. In so doing, the meta-narrative of America stands in opposition to a deterritorialising tendency that - as a body of recent critical scholarship attests - inform the post 9/11 context, a tendency borne out of a new, shared awareness of historical violence within the national community. As it displaces codified social boundaries, and established links between individual and communities, such deterritorialising rhetoric threaten the symbolic coherence of the world. The conflict between long-standing symbologies of the nation and the impact of a new cultural milieu thus emerges in the cinema as a representational impasse, whose different textual outcomes are addressed in the main chapters of this thesis. In order to investigate the interplay of different symbolic maps, the present study focuses on four spatial signifiers - the house, the village, the city and the land - and derives its methodological tools from a body of scholarship largely comprised within the so-called 'spatial turn'. The terms of this theoretical engagement are specified in the first part the thesis, while the conclusion expands on the direction of the research, and connects the study to other related disciplinary discourses, both in Film studies and American studies.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-05-29
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 29th May 2020
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