Genre memory in the twenty-first century American war film : how post-9/11 American war cinema reinvents genre codes and notions of national identity
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In this thesis, I argue that twenty-first century American war films are constructed in dialogue with the past, repurposing earlier forms of war representation by evoking the visual and narrative memory of the past that is embedded in genre form—what Mikhail Bakhtin calls 'genre memory.' Comparing post-9/11 war films with Vietnam War films, my project examines how contemporary war films envision war’s impact on culture and social space, explore how war refashions ideas about race and national identity, and re-imagine war’s rewriting of the human psyche. My research expands on earlier research and departs from traditional approaches to the war film genre by locating the American Civil War at the origin of this genre memory, and, in doing so, argues that nineteenth century documentation of the Civil War serves as a rehearsal for the twentieth and twenty-first century war film. Constructed in explicit relation to the Vietnam film, I argue that post-9/11 war films rehearse the history of war representation in American culture while also emphasizing the radically different culture of the present day. Rather than representing a departure from past forms of war representation, as has been argued by many theorists, I show that contemporary American war films can be seen as the latest chapter in a long history of reimagining American military and cultural history in pictorial and narrative form.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 16th January 2018
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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