Skip navigation

Reel wars: Cold War, civil rights and Hollywood's changing interpretation of the American Civil War 1945-75

Reel wars: Cold War, civil rights and Hollywood's changing interpretation of the American Civil War 1945-75

Collins, John Roy (2006) Reel wars: Cold War, civil rights and Hollywood's changing interpretation of the American Civil War 1945-75. MPhil thesis, University of Greenwich.

[img] PDF
John_Roy_Collins_2006.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 16 March 2019.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB)

Abstract

This study is an examination of America's evolving sense of racial and national identity in the period from 1945 to the mid 1970s as refracted through Hollywood's representation of the American Civil War - a powerful event in American memory which still resonates today.

Civil War films have been the subject of study by film studies specialists and historians but they have concentrated on the early years highlighting the iconic films The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Gone with the Wind (1939). The period 1945-75 has not received similar systematic attention, yet it is highly significant in American history covering as it does the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement.

The aim of the study is to show that history films can be used to assist in a better understanding of the past - not the 'past' that the history film purports to represent but the past of the moment of its production. This approach sees Hollywood films as untapped sources of evidence of changes in public perception about the issues of the day. This differs from the approach of most film historians who seek to examine the past by using archival and printed sources, such as newspapers, magazines and biography.

The study demonstrates the complex interaction of the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement on Hollywood and how they influenced the discourse about race and national identity through popular culture. Ultimately it was the Civil Rights Movement that had the greater influence upon Civil War films. It also shows that Hollywood's presentation of the Civil War underwent a far more radical process of change than has hitherto been understood. By the late 1960s all of the early twentieth century myths had been questioned and overturned and African Americans had become part of mainstream America.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hollywood cinema, film history, American Civil War, Cold War, war films,
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2018 15:11
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/8542

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics