Glory, Glory: Hollywood's Consensus Memory of the American Civil War

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

A recycling of motifs - narrative, visual and musical - can be found in the Hollywood historical film which contributes to what Alison Landberg calls a ‘prosthetic memory,’ the memory of an historical event that has been accrued through the consumption of mass media texts. This manufacturing of memory for those who did not witness the historical event is found no more evidently than in the American Civil War film. Motifs and narrative conventions in these films come to stand in as tangible manifestations of memory of this significant event. Over the course of more than a century of filmmaking, a consensus memory of the Civil War has emerged comprising of sectional iconography, narrative clichés, heroic deeds and accepted mythologies about the war’s causes. This chapter argues that this consensus memory operates as an ideological project working to educate American viewers as to their ‘natural,’ national identity. It argues that one key film, The Beguiled (Don Siegel, 1971), works to disrupt the consensus memory of the Civil War by presenting fully rounded, primary players in the war narrative who own entirely Un-American values and behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReconfiguring the Union: Civil War Transformations
EditorsIwan W. Morgan, Philip J. Davies
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages201-219
Number of pages244
ISBN (Print)9781137336477
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

Publication series

NameStudies of the Americas

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Barrett, J. (2013). Glory, Glory: Hollywood's Consensus Memory of the American Civil War. In I. W. Morgan, & P. J. Davies (Eds.), Reconfiguring the Union: Civil War Transformations (pp. 201-219). (Studies of the Americas). Palgrave Macmillan.