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Ideological, Dystopic, and Antimythopoeic Formations of Masculinity in the Vietnam War Film

Title: Ideological, Dystopic, and Antimythopoeic Formations of Masculinity in the Vietnam War Film.
Name(s): Stegall, Elliott, author
Kelsay, John, 1953-, professor directing dissertation
Bearor, Karen, 1950-, university representative
Erndl, Kathleen M., committee member
Edwards, Leigh H., 1970-, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Program in Interdisciplinary Humanities, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2014
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (189 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This dissertation argues that representations of masculinity in the Hollywood war/combat films of the Vietnam film cycle reflect the changing and changed mores of the era in which they were made, and that these representations are so prevalent as to suggest a culture-wide shift in notions of masculinity since the Vietnam War. I demonstrate that the majority of the representations of masculinity in the Vietnam War film cycle (an expression that includes all films on the Vietnam War but particularly those produced in Hollywood) have achieved mythic status--accepted truths--but are often exaggerated and/or are erroneous to the point of affecting how historical events are understood by subsequent generations. Such is the power of cinema. This dissertation, then, adopts a cultural-political-historical perspective to investigate Hollywood's virtual re-creation of the Vietnam War and its combat participants as dystopic, anti-mythopoeic figures whose allegiance to patriotism, God, and duty are shown to be tragically betrayed by a changing paradigm of masculinity and has thus created a new mythos of the American male which abides in the American consciousness to this day. All of which is to ask, why was there such a significant change from admirable cinematic representations of America as a nation that represents the ideology of freedom and liberty for all and U.S. soldiers as the hallmark of strength and goodness in the WW II movies to the mostly wretched representations of both in the Vietnam War cycle? While each chapter of my dissertation will attempt to identify plausible answers to these questions, I will also seek to explore why and how these alterations from the regnant traditions of American values--honoring the military, respecting the government and other traditions, such as the nuclear family, marriage as a sacred institution, monogamy as the respected norm, children as inviolable, gender roles as fixed, separation of the races, etc.--came to such a tumultuous head in the 1960s and resulted in the significantly altered constructs of values and masculinity that have become the norm in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. In order to investigate historical cinematic representations effectively, it is necessary to consider the actual events of the times and challenge the subsequent various mythopoeic formations of the Hollywood Vietnam veteran.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-9251 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Program in Interdisciplinary Humanities in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2014.
Date of Defense: October 21, 2014.
Keywords: cinema, film, masculinity, myth, Vietnam, war
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: John Kelsay, Professor Directing Dissertation; Kathleen Erndl, Committee Member; Leigh Edwards, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Motion pictures
Study and teaching
United States -- Study and teaching
Gender expression
Study and teaching
Gender identity
Study and teaching
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Stegall, E. (2014). Ideological, Dystopic, and Antimythopoeic Formations of Masculinity in the Vietnam War Film. Retrieved from