Dissertation Information for Benjamin Fisher
MPACT Status: Complete - Except Indecipherables
Title: Collective memory, the media, and the social construction of postmodern war
Abstract: A Mass media play a critical role in America's social and political discourse about the meaning of war in the postmodern age. Such meaning is socially constructed from the collective memory the nation shares about how it has fought previous wars, most notably World War II as the "Good War" and The Vietnam War as the "Bad War." These discursive bookends create schema the public and the media use to iterate and reiterate stories about the more recent use of American military force. Using critical discourse analysis, the dissertation examines a series of recent feature films, Associated Press photographs, and news stories in Time and Newsweek as lieux de memoire , or sites where meaning is socially constructed about war, based as much on the memories of past wars as on the pragmatic considerations of the present conflict. This remembrance of the past is far from historically accurate, but rather is grounded on the cultural myths Americans embrace about themselves as warriors and the often ethnically biased myths Americans embrace about the nature of the enemy. Such a mythical outlook can threaten clear understanding of the nature of war and those who fight it.
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