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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55701
Doc. No:TL25655
Call number:‭3255379‬
Main Entry:Geoffrey A. Wright
Title & Author:On foreign soil: Geographies of experience in American combat narrativesGeoffrey A. Wright
College:The University of Tulsa
Date:2007
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2007
Page No:224
Abstract:This dissertation argues that American narratives of infantry combat essentially take shape as stories about the geographical environment in which the ground fighting occurs. Within the combat subgenre, the geographies of foreign war zones are integral mechanisms in the formation of rhetorical elements such as plot, theme, character, and symbolism. In combat narratives, geography itself becomes a story about a particular kind of experience in war, that of the American infantry. This story is told through a vocabulary of sensory experience, which locates the characters, narrator, and camera in a visceral relationship with the physical landscape. The sensory vocabularies of combat narratives situate geography as the primary medium through which the physical struggles and psychological crises and transformations of American combatants and non-combatants unfold. The topography of the war zone ultimately assimilates or even substitutes for the human enemy, thereby becoming the central antagonist in the story. I focus on the United States' four major wars in East Asia and the Middle East during roughly the latter half of the twentieth century, beginning with the Pacific Theater of World War II and moving forward chronologically through the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War. In Chapter 1, I argue that Norman Mailer's novel The Naked and the Dead (1948) and Allan Dwan's film Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) revolve around the Marines' struggle not so much against the Japanese as against the jungles and mountains dominating the islands on which the stories are set. In Chapter 2, I argue that S. L. A. Marshall's memoir Pork Chop Hill (1956) and Lewis Milestone's film adaptation, also titled Pork Chop Hill (1959), construct the Korean landscape as a hybrid geography comprised of human, mechanical, and ecological bodies that become fused into a composite enemy. In Chapter 3, I argue that Oliver Stone's film Platoon (1986) follows a ritualistic pattern of descent, immersion, and assault, a pattern that offers an analogous means for understanding the narrative sequence through which Michael Herr moves in his memoir Dispatches (1977). In Chapter 4, I argue that Anthony Swofford's memoir Jarhead (2003) and Sam Mendes's recent film adaptation, also titled Jarhead (2005), ground their treatment of the war in the sand and boundless expanse of the desert, a strategy which counters the postmodern theorization of the war. The Epilogue surveys literature and film emerging from the Iraq War, which I suggest revolve around two distinct yet overlapping geographies: (1) that of the invasion, which is largely rural; and (2) that of the occupation, which is predominantly urban.
Subject:Communication and the arts; Language, literature and linguistics; Combat narratives; Geographies; War zones; American literature; Motion pictures; 0900:Motion pictures; 0591:American literature
Added Entry:G. O. Taylor
Added Entry:The University of Tulsa